Lothar has been volunteering as Perth’s Branch Manager for the last six months. He has always been around libraries and books and wants to share his adventures in reading as far as possible with all walks of life. He kindly took the time to chat with us on why he became a volunteer and how books can open minds.
What does your role entail as Perth’s Branch Manager?
I am the connection point for the management team. I am also responsible for raising awareness of The Footpath Library (TFL) to the public. This involves networking with people, groups and individuals.
Why did you start volunteering with TFL?
While I have never been homeless, I was brought up in an area in Melbourne where I saw people I knew struggle to make ends meet. Often the migrant children of local families left home due to differences in cultural and traditional family values that arose due to living in a new country. All these “life” experiences shaped the person I am now so when I saw the opportunity to work with TFL it resonated with me. I wanted to take it on and help where I could.
Why do you think providing books to homeless people matters?
In learning to survive, we all look for hope to go on. If you are given something, like a book for free with no strings attached, I believe this is one way to feed that hope by feeding the mind. This is something that cannot be taken away. I think TFL is about awareness and people opening their mind as to how they can make a difference.
What have your learnt about homelessness since you started volunteering with TFL?
I have learned much about homelessness since joining TFL. Mostly that homelessness is a complex issue that deals with people’s self-esteem and dignity, as well as economics.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about volunteering for TFL?
Do it, not just because you like books. Do it for what books and literacy can do for others.
Do you have a favourite genre you normally like to read?
I have been involved with books and libraries all my life and I like to think I am open in what I read. However, I tend to favour cyber punk novels because they forecast new technologies. I also read a fair amount of Japanese Zen philosophy and I keep up an interest in biographies.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I am reading “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson. I read it in the 1980s and I am re-reading it now. Just by coincidence (maybe), it is the story of an interactive book that uses nanotechnology to teach children that otherwise would not be going to school as well as other concepts of survival.