where the writers are
Pages of People

Santa Monica has a new library program that I read about recently.  For 30 minutes, you can "sign-out" a person to talk about an issue he/she knows about such as homelessness.  Gives a whole new meaning to "my life is an open book" or "there's a book in everyone".  And you can "book" another session with that person if no one else has placed that person "on hold".   Not kidding. 

I guess you might say that this program is long overdue.  With information so easily obtained on the internet, people are still the best resource.  Of the fourteen living books, so far topics include Buddhism, vegans and nudists.  The program where the books talk back seems to have picked odd subjects, but they claim that these one on one conversations are meant to break stereotypes.  I'm curious to see if only the nudists are "checked out" though, I have to say.

I could criticize that we need something organized to actually listen to each other, but I think that it helps to look at people in a different way.  If only we saw everyone as pages of our story or worth being covered.  What a difference to try to learn something and give our time willingly to "read" someone's words.

Writers know the story is bound by characters.  Wouldn't it be neat to have living books in all our communities?  We'd have inspiration and research right there for us to choose.   We could have turn off the tv nights and actually visit people.  We could blog verbally instead of on computers.  Oh wait, we already do have them, don't we?  Who are you reading right now?  What are your favorite living books for writing research?  For entertainment?

I've always worried that people want to talk instead of listen, but this library idea just might work.  After all, you get double your 15 minutes of fame and are considered an 'expert' about some topic, no matter how obscure.  It could happen.  Maybe we need to make it happen.  Not just like Fahrenheit 451, but all of us guaranteeing value for the unpublished works in the pages lived out around us and even the ones in us too.  We writers are the ones entrusted with the privilege of ensuring that everyone's page is worth a look, because we are the fortunate ones who get to explain why.

So I hope you'll go "read" a book for thirty minutes or more tonight.  Just don't forget to bring coffee--for your book as well as for yourself.

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Red lights are flashing.

Teryl, this library program concerns me.  Who pays these experts? Who screens them? Where does this converse take place? in the library, in your home?  It seems as if there is too much room for abuse on both sides.

Did you learn much?

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Pages of People

I only read about the program--didn't participate in it, so I can't speak fully about the topic.  Supposedly, the one on one interviews take place in public areas (not in the library due to the noise factor).  The library has only picked 14 people right now and it is just starting.  I too wonder how it will turn out, especially since the library chose the topics and the people labeled as experts.  I really would want some screening to keep from liability and worse, at the least ensuring participants were over 18 and passed background checks.  (Though I doubt this has happened.)

As a real life takeoff of the 451 book, I was mostly intrigued by the idea of a different way of seeing the worth in people, however "gimmicky".  Yet I agree with you that this program might also cause people to be used or de-valued into "issues" or "examples" or as you point out, actually even abused.

How would you think it would/should work?  Or do you think they shouldn't try it due to the problems you've mentioned?

No answers here, curious about yours.

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How about anonymous telephone consultations with expert?

Or if you prefer face-to-face meetings, how about scheduling a conference room in the library and have the "experts" hold group question-and-answer sessions on their topics to all interested.

And too, the library reference desk can recommend appropriate books to the wanna-learners. Descretion is the better part of valor (and cheaper).