While many do it, it’s been said before, don’t judge a book by its cover — a particularly poignant message when the book is a living, breathing person.
Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society is hosting a living library event in Ladysmith promoting the understanding of diversity.
“It’s an opportunity to meet with real people and talk to them,” said Terre Flower, manager of diversity programs.
“It’s a way of building relationships and correcting misinformation and false assumptions of people.”
The “Don’t judge a book by its cover: a living library of spirituality and faith” event, centres around the idea that much of religion, faith and spirituality is often a hidden aspect of a person’s identity.
Flower said the society is still looking for living books to participate in Ladysmith.
“We want to recruit people who have all aspects of their identity,” she said, adding they want people who will speak of their own experiences.
She stressed the intent is not to cover every religion or faith, “but open it up to people who have a religious or spiritual practice who want to share it.”
She said so far they have such books as a Catholic nun and a woman who converted to Islam.
“People will want to understand her journey,” she said of the convert.
Flower stressed the event is not to push religion on anyone.
“It’s not proselytizing, but speaking of one’s own experiences.”
She said it’s not about ‘I believe this’ but how one lives that particular faith.
The event works by the community arriving to check out a book. A book that happens to be human.
“The community are the readers,” she said. “Come in, borrow a book, have a 20 minute conversation and return it. It’s really a library, the only difference is the books are people.”
Flower said there will be a catalogue with a brief description of each book and a couple questions to get the ball rolling.
“We’ll have conversation starters and a librarian there,” she said.
This is the first time a project using living books has been attempted on Vancouver Island, Flower said.
“It’s a pretty cool idea.”
She added the Multicultural Society’s partnership with Vancouver Island Libraries has helped tremendously.
Flower said an event like this is important to foster understanding of a part of people that’s often tucked away.
“Religious practice and spiritual practice is sometimes hidden and not always a conversation you have with others,” she explained.
She said in bigger centres it’s easier to see religious diversity and that’s why it’s important to hold these types of events in smaller communities.
“It’s not as present,” she said of different religions in smaller towns.
She said she hopes this event will be an impetus for others like it.
“This is the first effort but we have hopes to inspire other uses in the community,” she said.
The event is at the Ladysmith library from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8.
It will also be held in Nanaimo’s Harbourfront library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 5, Qualicum Beach library from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 11 and Parksville library from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 9.
For more information or to sign up as a living book contact Terre Flower at 250- 753-6911 extension 3.