January 26, 2013 is National Human Library Day in Canada.
In 15 cities across the country, libraries will have human "books" available for check-out.
What is a human book?
A human book is a person who volunteers to be available for one-on-one conversations with library patrons, in order to share their stories and connect with people they may not otherwise interact with. Library patrons can "check out" a human book for a set period of time, with the goal of increase understanding and interaction among people of different ages, backgrounds, religions, and sexual orientation.
History of the Human Library
The first human library event was held in Denmark, organised by a group of young people after the stabbing of one of their friends. The main goal was to increase dialogue and understanding, and decrease violence. The first event was held at Northern Europe's largest summer festival, encouraging festival attendees to get to know one another. The event was a success, and the human library was born. (Source)
Why Would I Want To Participate?
Why wouldn't you want to participate? This is a chance to hear the incredible personal stories of people who have lived interesting lives and often overcome great personal adversity to get to where they are today. It's a chance to ask questions, to learn about someone whose life experiences differ from your own. A chance to overcome prejudices, to gain more insight and understanding, and to make connections with people you may not otherwise ever meet.
You can meet with a female firefighter, the man who founded the Black Daddies Club, an amputee hockey player, a transgendered youth, an Olympic sprinter. The list is long and varied, and the participants fascinating.
How Do I Get Involved?
This year in Canada the CBC has partnered with local libraries and cultural centres to hold the event. Participating is as simple as finding out where an event is being held near you, and showing up. To find a list of participating venues, click HERE. All events are free.
No event near you? No worries. The CBC has also launched a digital version of the program, with some notable figures sharing their stories on line. On the list, authors Margaret Atwood and Robert Munsch. I know right? To learn more about how to participate in the online event, click HERE.
Everybody has a story to tell. Unfortunately, we often only really hear the stories of those who are just like us. This is a chance to get to know someone with life experiences that are different from our own, and to see the humanity in each other. To someone like me, who lives her life in books and the stories they tell, an event like this is like a book come to life!
If you do choose to participate, leave a comment and let me know how it went!