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Check Out a Tibetan Monk. Just Don't Return Him Late.
Libraries from Copenhagen to Kyoto (Orlando, Florida is next) have sponsored Human Library projects. Usually taking place on one weekend day, the program features people -- yes, people -- that patrons can check out for a half-hour of conversation. According to this great essay by Paul Gallant, a recent event at the Toronto Public Library offered a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, a teenager with Cerebral Palsy, a former sex-worker, a police officer, a cancer survivor, and more. Toronto Public Library's manager of corporate communications, Anne Marie Aikins, said, "With the Human Library, it's a one-on-one experience and that kind of storytelling, from person to person, does harken back to centuries and centuries ago when a story was the only way to learn. It's an old technology." (This essay includes a report of one writer's experience "checking out" a human from the library to chat with.)
I wish every library in the world had this, every weekend. In daily life, there's often so little opportunity to encounter people very different from ourselves, and when we do, we're often too shy or polite or whatever it is to ask the questions we really want to ask. While I love the idea of this program, both in what it does for people and for the institution of libraries, it occurs to me that each of us can recreate a Human Library of our own. Go ahead...talk to a human today.
Visit the Human Library's website for information on upcoming programs.
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