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Discover Our Living Library

On this page you will find information on what Living Libraries are and how you can get involved at University Hospitals Dorset NHS Trust and Dorset HealthCare NHS Trust.

What are Living Libraries?

A Living Library brings people together  to share experiences, challenge stereotypes and raise awareness of the lived experience of others. Based on the Human Library movement our Living Library recruits volunteers to act as human books and tell their personal stories, sharing their lived-experiences with staff that choose to “borrow” a human book.  It provides a safe space for conversations to support colleagues, share best practice and use the power of personal conversation to positively challenge prejudice or discrimination.

The benefits of Living Libraries:

  • Creates a safe space to support colleagues
  • Provide an opportunity to positively challenge prejudice or discrimination
  • Enable staff to come to a better understanding of issues faced by colleagues
  • Encourages best practice to be shared when dealing with discrimination and prejudice
  • Supports Wellbeing
  • Supports CPD

How does it work?

All book covers with the QR code will be displayed in our libraries, and on our library catalogue. The QR code will take the reader to a form, where again, they must consent to the terms and conditions. Library staff will then contact the book on their behalf and the book will confirm their availability. 

Library staff will advise the reader of the available dates and times. Dependent on the loan category contact details will either be shared between the book. and the reader or they can meet in the library or on MSTeams at the agreed time. 

The book can change what category they are in at any time, they can also withdraw themselves. If the book is away or too busy to meet the reader we will let them know that the book is currently on loan and they can put a reservation in for when the book is available again.

To sign up to be a book click the above button and fill in the form – we will arrange a meeting with all the books in September to go through the guidance. If you can’t make the event on the 6th October and still want to be a book then please sign up, just let us know you can’t make that date.

Our books are able to loan themselves out under the following loan types:

  • Reference only – can only meet in the library
  • Restricted loan – Via Teams with a librarian present on the call or in the library
  • Standard Loan - Willing to arrange a time and place to meet that suits both parties, with the librarian making initial contact with both the book and reader.

We need books telling your story across a range of life and work experiences. This could be your PRIDE journey, your nurse apprenticeship, or facing challenges such as menopause symptoms or mental health difficulties. Anything you are happy to share.

Here is the current guidance we have. 

  • Have some factual information e.g. statistics or data on your subject, have some stories ready to tell, have some props which may help with your subject
  • You have limited time to ‘be borrowed’ stick to the time allotted or ask the borrower to renew the loan for another session.
  • Try to be honest and open in your session, listen carefully to the questions you are asked.
  • Be ready to share your stories, if the questions become difficult then please don’t be afraid to say you are uncomfortable with them.
  • Be ready to have to repeat the same information over again as different readers may pose the same questions.
  • A good question to start the conversation is ‘Why did you choose my book?’ This may help in discovering what interests them in your subject.
  • If you do not understand a question then please ask for clarification, if it is a yes/no answer then why not add in an example of your story.
  • A reader may have chosen your title because they need personal advice, please refrain from problem solving, and try to help by simply sharing your story and your experience. Details will also be provided to you on where you can signpost them to for help.
  • The content of the story is confidential, so please do not mention people by name.
  • If you feel uneasy with a reader, you have the right to end the discussion.
  • You can stop being a book and be withdrawn at any time you want.
  • Enjoy being a book, it can be very interesting for you and your readers.

When someone requests to borrow you, we will contact you to see your availability. The loan period is for 20 minutes. You may withdraw yourself as a book at any time.

  • The Reader must be respectful in their questions and conversation with the Human Book.
  • The Reader accepts the fact that the Human Book can quit the conversation if they feel that the Reader is treating them in an inappropriate or disrespectful manner. This behaviour can be reported to HR.
  • The loan period is for 20 minutes.
  • The Reader cannot record, videotape or take pictures of the Human Book.
  • The Reader is not allowed to ask the Human Book for personal contact information. All requests for further contact should be through the Living Library organisers

Available for loan

Useful Links

BMJ Best Practice


Library Catalogue



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