In a fresh twist to the idea of being ‘on the shelf’, the Malmoe Library in southern Sweden will make available nine new additions to its collection over the weekend.
“Maybe not all journalists are know-it-all and sensationalist, just unafraid and curious. Maybe not all animal rights activists are angry and intolerant, but intelligent and committed,” said Ulla Brohed, the coordinator of the living library scheme.
“You sometimes hear people’s prejudices and you realise that they are just uninformed,” Ms Brohed said.
The ‘items’ on loan will include an imam, a journalist, a Dane, a homosexual, a Muslim woman and a member of the Romany, or Gypsy, community.
The ‘Borrow a Bias’ project will give borrowers 45 minutes to confront the prejudice of their choice in the library’s outdoor café.
It is not clear whether the library will impose late-fees if borrowers are late returning their loans.
“It’s a fun idea. Prejudice is something you have when you don’t know each other. If you confront each other, then the prejudice is broken down,” Lilian Simonsen, the Dane who will be on loan, said.
“We would like to test whether there really is such a difference between Danes and Swedes, as many people believe,” Ms Brohed said of Lilian Simonsen’s involvement.
The librarian said the Danes and Swedes have too little contact and that people living in the north of Sweden tended to find the Danish language incomprehensible, according to a report on the Danish Foreign Ministry’s official Denmark website.
Such conditions provide a fertile breeding ground for misinformed beliefs and preconceptions.
But,at least in launching the living library project, Swedes and Danes will soon have one more thing in common.
Copenhagen’s multicultural Norrebro neighbourhood has laid claim to initiating the idea.