panoramic view of library

Library of Lived Experience in the North

People with lived experience of mental health difficulties are often best placed to help others. We want to try and explore new ways in which people can do this. One way is to do this via a Living Library.

Here, people are employed as living books, trained and supported to share their experiences in one-to-one conversations. Readers are people seeking to learn about mental health to help themselves, a loved one, or they might be staff. Readers choose a book based on a short author summary and have a conversation with the book. Readers are encouraged to ask questions to create an interactive dialogue between the books and readers. The idea is to have conversations that draw on lived experience to inform, challenge our preconceptions and change the way we think. Everyone within the library is equal and books can choose to decline answering any of the readers questions if they so wish. Books can be employed flexibly allowing a broad range of people to contribute across ethnic, gender, sexuality and age groups, and including those in work or with caring responsibilities.

What this study involves?

Our research team includes people with lived experience, staff, and researchers. This study has two parts to it. The first part involves us drawing together data from previous living libraries, and interviewing those who have taken part in them. This is to uncover how and why living libraries work and the effects that they have on the books and readers who use them.

The second part of the project involves regular co-desgin workshops (online) with those who have lived experience of mental health issues, living libraries and peer support. The workshops use creative methods to get attendees to think about how a living libraries could be set up and any issues that may need to be addressed.

Meet the research team

Please note this website is being updated as the study progresses

Tab Content: Key Study Outputs


We will upload the study papers here once they are published.