The Living Library Program

The Launceston Living Library is a chance for members of the community to hear the stories of others. 

What is the Living Library?

You can't judge a book by its cover. It's the same with people. What you see is rarely a complete picture of who they really are.

Based on similar concepts around the globe, Launceston's Living Library was created in 2008 as an initiative of the City of Launceston in partnership with LINC and the community at large to promote diversity and perceived safety in Launceston.

In 2014, Launceston's Living Library was awarded the Human Rights Organisation Award for "creating and open and respectful place within the community where people can listen to stories that help to challenge prejudices and discrimination and that promote empathy, understanding and respect for human rights and diversity."

The Living Library people (known as Books) loan themselves for an honest and open discussion about their unique experiences with an audience (their readers) in a safe environment. The Living Library aims to promote inclusion and diversity by challenging stereotypes and discrimination. 

How does it work?

Organisations (schools, corporations, events) invite the Living Library to attend and provide a comfortable space for dialogue and interaction where Readers are given the opportunity to speak informally with a Living Book. The book shares their story as a conversation. A Reader can 'enter' the story by asking questions or discussing their own experiences. Each book reading takes around 20 minutes. Readers rotate to meet a different Book each rotation.

The strength of this approach is found in its simplicity and openness. Modelled on various approaches used worldwide, it is a concrete, easily transferable and affordable way to promote acceptance and understanding. It’s a simple, direct contribution to social cohesion in Launceston.

The program runs thanks to the participation and involvement of volunteers.

What is a Living Library Book?

A Living Library Book is usually a volunteer who has experienced some form of prejudice, discrimination, stigmatization, abuse or misunderstanding. They are ready to tell their stories and answer questions from readers to help challenge what is being said, told or understood about the topic.

Our Books are role models or ambassadors for people experiencing similar problems as well as helping shed light on the facts as they have come to know them based on lived experience.

Books are not on a mission when with us, and they are not political. Books simply have some time to spare and a story to tell. No judgement. No preaching. Just sharing a conversation.

Apply as a book in the Launceston Living Library

What is a Reader?

Readers want (or need) to broaden or challenge their understanding of the world they know and understand. Readings can occur with school groups, corporate groups and in public or other spaces. Readers are supported by volunteer Librarians.

Naturally you need to be motivated to answer questions from strangers and have patience and empathy and you need to attend the mentoring before you can be published.

Become a Reader:

Book a reading for your school, corporation or event (private or public). Help promote understanding of diversity, fight prejudice, question stigmatization and reduce discrimination.

Become a Book:

Share your experiences with others to help grow understanding.

Become a Librarian:

Help support our books and readers to prepare for readings, and during events. Help administer the library by booking events and promote the library. 


How to become a Reader

You can experience the power of the Living Library stories in Launceston by contacting us to book an event at your school, corporation, or event. Let us know if you want to book specific Books, but note that not all Books are available for all events.



How to become a Book

How much time will I need to invest?

Ideally, you can spare at least a half day a month, around 10 times per year. We understand that you may not be able to do all the event dates you are offered.

Readings can take place at schools and universities, organisations and libraries, events and even in public spaces. Most will be on weekdays, or occasionally there may be a weekend request. Usually 4 or more books will attend and speak to each group of readers as they rotate to hear each book speak. A group reading session will usually require around 1.5 -2hrs. 

How do I know when a reading is occurring?

A Librarian from the Living Library of Launceston will let you know in advance of an upcoming reading opportunity. In the unusual situation where a book becomes unavailable for their booking, we may ask if you are able to assist with a short-notice booking to share your story.

Will my experience be of interest to readers?

We will usually know in advance if there is a readership for your story. Our Librarians can help you sort out your story content and your reader appeal. If you have any questions or doubts your Librarians are always there to help you.

Is being a Book a volunteer position?

Yes - Books in the Living Library Launceston are volunteers who are motivated by chance to speak/explain/clarify/diversify the views and ideas about the group in the community that they represent on the Bookshelf.

By being a volunteer in the Living Library you get to be part of a group of people who promote diversity and actively grow new understanding and perceptions in our community.

You get to learn about other people who have experienced marginalisation, stigma or discrimination. You will meet other people who will inspire you and lift you up.  You will grow your local networks. You will gain insights into what others think and believe. You might even gain an increased understanding of yourself.

Who will take care of me?

Your friendly Living Librarians are there to help ensure that you have a good experience every time you are published. Librarians also keep an eye on readers to provide support if needed.

‘Rules for Readers’ - what are they?

Rules for Readers: Value your time with a Book, and respect each Book.

Curiosity is encouraged and will often be rewarded with additional insights. Return the book on time and in good condition. Both the book and the reader can end the loan at any time during the session.

When and where will the events be?

Events can take place at schools and universities, organisations and libraries, events and even in public spaces. Most will be on weekdays, or occasionally there may be a weekend request. We understand that most books will not be able to contribute every time. You should receive a Book Request some weeks in advance by email including the date, time of arrival, and organisation's venue address. Confirm with your Librarian know as soon as possible that you can do the reading.

Do I need to attend all the events?

You only need to attend the events that you are able to make time for, and where your story has been requested by a Librarian. We are not able to publish all of our library's books at all of the events.

The agreement we have with our partner venue is based on your commitment. We need to be able to depend on you. If you fail to attend an event you committed to, it impact the quality of experience for our other books and for our readers.

How do I register my interest?

First, decide if you think this is something for you. If so, fill in the contact form and tell us why you would like to meet Readers and let us know about the experiences you have to share.

What next?

After you express interest to be a Book within the Launceston Living Library, we will reach out to meet with you.

If it seems like a good fit, then you will be invited to attend a Living Library session and receive mentoring to help you prepare. Please note that some Books are highly in demand and some take longer to be requested.

How to become a Librarian

Use the contact form to let the Living Library know if you would like to help support our Books and events. 

Contact the Launceston Living Library

Become a Living Library Book, group member, or host the program in your organisation or school. To learn more, contact the Living Library Librarians: