Apr 22, 2014 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Twenty curious people turned out Tuesday evening, April 15, at Liverpool Public Library to check out the “Human Library,” a scheduled 20-minute one-on-one with a person who has a certain expertise to share or a compelling story to tell.
A Human Library is a living, breathing library where humans are the “books” and the stories are their lives.
“Instead of coming into the library to check out a book from the shelves,” explains LPL”s Cindy Hibbert, “patrons check out a real, live person who has a unique life experience.”
The human library project celebrated National Library Week, April 13 to 19, with the theme “lives change @ your library.” The Central NY Library Resources Council (CLRC) organized a half dozen Human Library events at libraries from Tompkins County to Syracuse University.
“The ‘books’ are volunteers who have a story to tell,” said Debby Emerson, executive director of the Library Resources Council. “Different libraries had different books, depending on their specific communities.”
For instance, at Onondaga Community College’s Coulter Library, one of the “books” was a roller-derby participant, one was a combat veteran, one was a member of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) community, one was a heart attack survivor and one was a member of law enforcement.
“A Human Library is a way for people to reach out and connect with individuals in their community with whom they might not normally interact,” Emerson explained. Human Libraries promote tolerance, celebrate differences and encourage understanding of people who come from varied cultural or lifestyle backgrounds.
Last week, Liverpool patrons sat down with one or more of 10 “books” to discuss topics ranging from cancer survival, holding public office, herbalism, and dealing with a teen’s addiction. “Books” here also included a Hindu, a Civil War re-enactor and a tinsmith.
Patrons selected their one-on-one sessions by topic rather than by name.
“Some of these people are discussing very personal, sensitive subjects,” said LPL librarian Jennifer Husenitza. “so there can be privacy issues.”
LPL participated in a Human Library event in 2012, “but it was not terribly successful,” said Cindy Hibbert, who coordinated this year’s LPL event which attracted 20 participants.
“That’s a big increase,” Hibbert said, “and this year people are requesting more time. They’d like 30 minutes with their ‘books,’ rather than 20, which is good.”
The Human Library concept originated in 2000 when a Copenhagen-based Stop The Violence group organized activities at Denmark’s annual Rokskilde Festival, one of Europe’s largest rock music festivals. The idea of bringing together people from diverse backgrounds has since caught on in Canada and the United States; humanlibrary.org.