Borrowing People in Human Libraries

Libraries are constantly changing at their core in order to maintain their missions of upholding literacy, providing access to free information, and supporting community growth. Libraries aren’t just books anymore. Technologies are changing, and with that, libraries constantly need to keep up in order to stay relevant. A new innovative idea that has been circling the internet recently is the concept of a Human Library, where patrons can check out a “human book” for a thirty minute session.

Put simply, a Human Library gives patrons the opportunity to sit down with an individual from a marginalized group and have a conversation. They can ask questions, discuss ideas, and gain a better understanding of these marginalized groups. CNN describes the concept more fully in this article, drawing attention to the regulations and criteria for selecting human books.

Every “human book” from this library represents a group that faces prejudice or stigmas because of their lifestyle, ethnicity, beliefs, or disability. A human book can be an alcoholic, for example, or a Muslim, or a homeless person, or someone who was sexually abused.

John Blake, This library lets you borrow people instead of books. It just may help bridge our bitter divisions

The root of many problems in todays world stems from loneliness and the feeling that we are not being heard. This is especially true for marginalized groups. The idea of having a “human book” library is intriguing in that it offers patrons more than an individual experience with a two-dimensional book. It offers them the experience of connecting with another human. Not only that, the experience is one that is designed to expand a patrons understand of their neighbors and challenge their views of acceptance. Instead of blindly following the opinions of the media and so many voices on the internet, this gives people a chance to form their own opinions about challenging concepts and life situations.

What better way to spread knowledge than from the oral history of a living person. If we listen to these marginalized voices, we can learn something about the world around us, and how we personally impact it. The Human Library gives us an opportunity to take responsibility for our own knowledge of challenging concepts, to educate ourselves about current world issues from primary sources. This is not a book. This is not an old piece of paper that has sat on a shelf for years. This is something new.

So what do you think? Would you ever go to a Human Library and chat with someone about their life? Do you think this concept could change the way people form their beliefs? Do you think it could help change people’s minds?

Happy thinking,
The Literary Kat

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