Living Library Idea as a Knowledge Managment Tool

A recent article in Library Journal caught my eye: “Living Library” Debuts in Santa Monica ((Library Journal, 10/20/2008)) As the article explains the living library movement invites library users to ‘book’ meetings with individuals with special interests, beliefs or experiences.

Though I can’t find proof of this in her written work, Connie Crosby once said that she pays attention to trends in public libraries that could apply to law library services. This memory glimer (hopefully I am attributing the credit correctly) says to me: how would the construct of a living library help my firm? What would that look like?

My instinct is that the living library model isn’t much different than having in firm continuing education sessions where a more senior practitioner shares knowledge with juniors or individuals outside of their traditional practice group. Since this model exists and works as a knowledge transfer device, how can that process be facilitated as a service that is available on demand?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to add information to the library catalog with the following model:

Title: Vicarious liability
Author: Partner X
Physical Description: 6’1″, folio [individual will come to your office or lunch for a discussion of the title topic]

Seriously though, there are many ways to formalize tacit knowledge transfer that already happens in informal ways. It is neat that this kind of tacit transfer is being encouraged by public libraries. If a public library can work with this model, our expertise filled organizations can too.


  1. Ha! Yes, I probably mentioned it in a talk at some point. I really do think library innovation is coming out of some public and academic libraries, although those in those areas may not recognize it and would probably deny it. Sometimes it is just a matter of seeing what someone in another area is doing, and figuring a way to apply it to what you are doing to be seen as innovative.

    Some interesting ideas here–sounds like it is related to the knowledge management with which law firms would be more familiar.

  2. Got a great message this morning from Ronni Abergel from Calgary Public Library is hosting a living library event March 21, 2009. Such a great idea.

  3. Hello Shauna!

    You may be interested to learn of A Living Library. This is a powerful framework and methodology for making place-based change in schools, libraries, and communities that engages children, youth, and adults in real-world, ecological transformation.

    A.L.L. for short, integrates local resources: human, ecological, economic, historic, technological, and aesthetic – seen through the lens of time – and results in development of content-rich learning environments.

    Since its development in 1981, A Living Library has resulted in improving the public realm in diverse communities, while bringing interdisciplinary, standards-based subjects to life for students and adults through hands-on learning. Math, science, history, languages, multi-arts, technology, nutrition, health, multi-cultures, plus more, come to life for all ages.

    Branch Living Libraries are linked – locally and globally.

    A Living Library is also a metaphor: Everyone and everything on earth and in space is part of A Living Library: People, Birds, Trees, Air, Water, and all the things we create, such as: Parks, Gardens, Libraries, Schools, Books, Buildings, Communities, Celebrations….
    A.L.L. is a vehicle and systemic framework for understanding that Culture and Technology are part of Nature. It is ALL Nature and everything is interconnected !

    I look forward to hearing from you !

  4. Bonnie,
    Thanks for the link to A Living Library. What a beautiful site and concept. The philospoher in me appreciates the metaphor. The images on your site are like an early Christmas present.

  5. Hello Shauna ! Great to hear from you ! Happy Holidays !

    I am enroute to NYC to visit our unique Roosevelt Island Living Library & Think Park there. Each Branch Living Library incorporates the local resources including the people. This is a way to bring cultures together to promote understanding, share commonalities and diversities, and also transform the environment !

    Perhaps your community in Canada would like to be involved in creating a unique Canadian Branch Living Library & Think Park. Let us know !

    Hope to work with you to do so !!!!