The MLA DEI Committee is starting its third year as an established committee of MLA. As part of our charge to thread DEI throughout MLA, the committee has hosted several successful Living Library programs, both virtually and in-person. What is the Living Library? The Living Library is not a lecture or a panel discussion, but intimate conversations organized to dismantle stereotypes and misconceptions. These are one-on-one or very small group sessions, during which readers check out a Living Book to learn about their experiences. Living Library events are an opportunity to learn more about unfamiliar experiences you might be curious about and to engage in dialogue about unseen lives and misunderstood identities. Each session is unique as readers drive the direction of the books’ content with their questions. Both readers and books alike have had transformational experiences during this event as part of our shared humanity.
Some examples of Living Book topics include:
- Religious Identity
- BIPOC Experiences
- LGBTQ+ Experiences
- Living with Medical Conditions
- Living with Mental Health Conditions
- Body Positivity
- Diverse Geographic & Cultural Backgrounds
- Diverse Abilities
Here is some feedback from past Living Library events:
“For those interested in participating, I would recommend an open mind to learn from the books you read, to understand their viewpoints, and seek to actively listen and be present in the experience. It’s not always easy (or appreciated) to share your authentic self, especially within a professional setting, but this type of program provides that space.” - Beth Whipple
“I participated as a book for past events, and I felt people were very curious about my story. I felt Living Library was a great way to have conversations about misperceptions and stereotypes, and to encourage others to keep an open mind in their interactions with others - to be cliché: NOT to judge a book by the cover.” -Kelsa Bartley
For this virtual event, there will be two reading periods during the two hour event. Readers will meet the books in various breakout rooms for 30 minute time slots per reading period. Readers can read up to two books during the event. The Living Books take a few minutes to describe their content and then the readers engage in inquiries about the books’ topics. Readers may ask the books questions, though the books reserve the right to refer the readers to additional resources or not cover that particular chapter in the event that day.
The next Living Library event will be during Experience MLA Month on February 21 from 1- 3 p.m., central time.
Register now for the DEI Committee’s fourth Virtual Living Library!