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Jan 19, 2012
Not everyone is a reader. That’s where the human library project can be a valuable learning tool. Libraries throughout North America have created unique learning environments by using “human books,” that patrons can “check out” for 20 to 30 minutes.
The Toronto Library hosted a one-day event at five of its branches a few months ago. Library visitors could spend up to 30 minutes learning about a person with intriguing and vastly different life experiences than their own through conversation.
In an interview with Good Culture, Annie Marie Aikins of the Toronto Library said the library saw the project as a way of “engaging the community.”
The “Living Books” were selected for their interesting backgrounds, and included a Buddhist monk, a former gang member (now a doctor) and a quadriplegic journalist, among others.
Elsewhere, the Ottawa Public Library is really getting into the diversity aspect of its upcoming human library program — among its 60 offerings: a stripper and a prostitute, according to the Metro website. Beyond the salacious, other conversations may be had with a firefighter, a pediatric neurosurgeon, a bus driver, a Somali refugee, a radio host and a bi-polar personality.
The Ottawa event is set for Jan. 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its five branches and the Canadian War Museum. For details, click here.
Canadians aren’t the only ones to host these kind of events.
In Little Rock, Ark., the library hosted a weekly program beginning in April 2011 and running through June 2011, according to the humanlibary.org website. The Little Rock events occurred at a new place throughout the city each week.
The human library program began in Denmark in 2000. It aims to end stereotypes, curb violence, inspire dialogue and improve social cohesion. According to the program website, the movement has grown to include 27 countries.