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Futurecade exhibit
Temporary Category for 2022

No Silence Please: The Crone Spoken Library

  • Workshop
Sat 24 September, 11:00am 2 hours 0 minutes Spiegeltent, Barker's Pool

For the purposes of safeguarding this event is restricted to over 16s only. 

Through a collaboration between Dr Lorna Warren, Sociological Studies, Pam McKinney, iSchool, and Justine Gaubert, creative producer and founder of Crone Club; you can join the Crone Spoken Library and challenge your perceptions of life after 50 for women in the UK.  Choose a ‘book title’, then pair up with the ‘book’ to explore, through conversation, the unique experiences of female ageing.


This event is free, but tickets need to be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

What you can expect at our Crone Spoken Library

On arrival, browse a series of book titles and pick a book title you want to ‘read.’

Book titles will span a range of diverse experiences of what it’s like to grow older as a woman in the UK – from growing older as a Gypsey Romany Traveller in the UK, to becoming a body-positive model and instagram influencer in older age. 

One of our ‘librarians’ will then match you up with the real human behind that book title and you will go and sit together and chat for 20 minutes about their story of female ageing. 

With your mutual consent, your conversation will be recorded for the Crone Digital Library so that other generations can be inspired by the wisdom and experiences of women in older age.

Expect to have any preconceived stereotypes of women in midlife and beyond challenged and to leave feeling less fearful and more optimistic about some of the joys of growing older.

What is a Spoken Library and how does it work?

The Crone Spoken Library draws on the Danish personal conversation approach of The Human Library. Under the Human Library initiative, a ‘book’ is an individual who volunteers to represent a stigmatised group using their personal experiences to answer questions from ‘readers’.

A Human Library differs from a traditional library in that rather than taking out a paper book to read, the reader gets matched up with the actual human being behind the book title and has a face-to-face dialogue with them about that person’s topic. An example of a topic within the current Human Library is ‘Wheelchair User’ and the book, Daniel Lee, is helping to provide readers with the perspective of a man, who sees his wheelchair as anything but a limitation. The approach has been shown to challenge stereotypes and better understand diversity through the invitation to ‘unjudge’ someone.

The Crone Spoken Library differs from the HL as it has a centralised theme, ‘Older Women’, and it uses the language of ‘stories’. Hosted in the spiegeltent at the Festival of the Mind, the aim is to provide a special space for women to share their stories of ageing with readers from new generations. The Crone Spoken Library also offers book covers before the event, for readers to browse, and aims to record stories and publish them digitally following the event. Nevertheless, the
central goals of the Crone Spoken Library echo those of the Human Library: to offer a room for conversation, where taboo topics can be discussed openly and without prejudice. Moving forward, the respective organisers of this initiative and Human Library are very keen to explore ways of working more closely in running library events that involve people as books, ensuring that safety is maintained, and impact is maximised.

Why is our Crone Spoken Library important?

Despite recent media interest in menopause, dominant narratives of female ageing are still frequently driven by fear. The aim of the project is to challenge negative stereotypes of older women and share more positive and diverse stories about female ageing and menopause. With more young women seeking out cosmetic surgery and the alarming growth of eating disorders and body dysmorphia, we want to challenge the ‘anti-ageing’ narrative with more positive stories about getting older.

“We want to help make female ageing and menopause a club that women and girls don’t feel afraid of joining.” Justine Gaubert, Crone Club.

Who can be a ‘reader’ and how do I join the library?

Anyone over the age of 16 can join to be a ‘reader’ – anyone who wants to find out more about some of the positives of growing older as a woman in the UK. In particular we are hoping that younger women of different ages and generations who are fearful of growing older will attend and be inspired by the stories of women in midlife and beyond.

For the purposes of safeguarding we regret that this event is restricted to over 16s only. 

To be a reader, sign up via Eventbrite.

Hope to see you there. 

For more information visit the Spoken Library page on the Crone Club website.