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21 October - 17 November
FoSS and ESRC logos

A Living Library of Care

Window archway

Lifelong wellbeing theme

What’s on offer?

Care is universal. Whether it’s the act of caring for a loved one, the experience of receiving care or the consideration and care you show towards your possessions or environment, we all have our own stories of care. These stories may be funny, creative, artful, nostalgic, or upsetting. They are our own, they are multifaceted, and they are beautiful.

We are offering the opportunity to learn more about care through the eyes of six living books. Our living books are six people with diverse experiences of providing and receiving care. During our living library activity, attendees will have the opportunity to ‘rent’ time with up to two of our books (don’t worry, it’s rent-free!), ask questions and learn more about the ‘books’ unique experiences of care.

Professor John Keady from the University of Manchester will also have a stall at the event to launch a new edited book ‘Reconsidering Neighbourhoods and Living with Dementia: spaces, places and people’ published by McGraw-Hill/Open University Press. He, and some of the authors who also took part in the book, will be available to speak about their work and answer any questions. More details about the book series at: Reconsidering Dementia Series (

What’s it about?

A living library gives people the opportunity to share their stories and lived experiences with others within a safe and structured space. Individuals play the role of living books and those visiting the library can borrow a live book to read (which basically means having a conversation with their chosen ‘live’ book). Our library will focus on a new notion which is both a theory and a practice, called ‘care aesthetics’.

Care aesthetics understands care as embodied (something we do), crafted (something we refine) and made up of sensory experiences (something we feel) between individuals, in groups and communities and between people and objects.

We are passionate about spotlighting the lived experience, skills and values involved in quality aesthetic care.

Our ‘live’ books will tell their own stories of embodied, skilled and sensory care, ranging from those with experience of receiving care, providing social and medical care and those who care for objects and collections.

  • Books will include:
  • Recipients of care
  • Engaged arts practitioners
  • Care workers
  • Material (object) care practitioners

Browse our library by following this link.

While the topic of care touches everyone at some point in their lives, the practice of sharing oral stories of lived experiences of care can bring the topic to life. Our discussions will make visible an often-invisible experience of care by exploring its craft, beauty, and physical experiences. In turn, our books will invite audiences to reflect on similar vignettes from their own lives.

Who’s leading the event?

The event is in partnership with The Whitworth Gallery. It is presented by The Care Lab (TCL) which is the public-facing arm of the Care Aesthetics Research Exploration (CARE) project at the University of Manchester. TCL is a hybrid space currently in residence at the Whitworth Art Gallery, where the event is taking place.

Many of the Lab’s ongoing projects work with care providers in Greater Manchester. We also have strong ties to Dementia United which is Greater Manchester Integrated Care partnership’s program for dementia:

The event will be run by:

Dr Sarah Fox, Research associate - NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester, Dementia and Ageing Research Team

Prof James Thomson, Professor of Drama

Dr Kate Maguire-Rosier, Research Associate – Care Aesthetics Research Exploration (CARE) Project

Prof John Keady, Professor of Older Peoples and Mental Health

Open to

Our event is open to all but some of the themes touched upon in the stories might not be suitable or of interest to children.

Of particular interest to

Our event is of particular interest to people who are receiving or are providing care.

Event Booking details

Attendees will be able to borrow a book for up to 20 minutes at a time for a specific time slot.

Attendees can book in advance, but several spots will be kept free on the day to ensure people visiting the public space where the event is taking place can participate on the day.