After the success of its first “Human Library” event last year, the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre is giving residents another opportunity to hear stories of local people face-to-face.
Being held in partnership with the local Celebrating Diversity committee, the second-annual event is set for Tuesday (Oct. 20) from 6-8 p.m.
“The idea is to foster understanding and tolerance while celebrating a strong diverse community,” noted library CEO Alicia Subnaik Kilgour.
“Our partnership with the library for the ‘Human Library’ event is a great way to show the community that we support diversity by actively promoting the stories of some of the diverse citizens in the Rainy River District,” echoed Nicke Baird, who is co-chair of the Celebrating Diversity committee.
“The event is a brilliant way to give people a better understanding and respect for the stories, successes, and tribulations that some people endure in our community,” she added.
Subnaik Kilgour noted “Human Libraries” are offered all over the world, and provide a simple yet positive approach to promoting tolerance and understanding.
The “Human Library” idea was developed in 2000 when a non-governmental youth movement in Denmark called “Stop the Violence” was encouraged to organize activities for the Roskilde Festival.
“Events that would put a focus on anti-violence, encourage dialogue, and build relations among the festival visitors,” the website noted.
“And the ‘Human Library’ was born as a challenge to the crowds of northern Europe’s biggest summer festival,” it added.
Subnaik Kilgour explained the “Human Library” event works just the way the library works—except the “books” are people.
The “books” are “borrowed” for a conversation. They come from different backgrounds and ways of life, but for different reasons were subjected to stereotyping or prejudice.
The “books” and “readers” are able to meet for a “loan
period” of up to 30 minutes in the library to listen, ask questions, and share experiences.
Subnaik Kilgour said there will be locations assigned for the “reader” and “book” to sit.
“We will use some of our intimate spaces throughout the library, so the cozy, comfortable chairs,” she noted.
She said a person can indicate which “book” they would like to check out.
Last year’s event locally saw six “books” checked out by 23 people.
The “books” included local centenarian and author Frances Shelfantook, residential school survivor Dick Bird, retired NHL player Mike Allison, war bride Pam Oliver, First Nations’ educator Donna Chief, and Confederation College student Jones Samuel from Nigeria.
The library received plenty of positive feedback from both the “readers” and the “books.”
Subnaik Kilgour indicated the goals of the “Human Library” are:
- to provide the opportunity for people to engage in dialogue with a diverse range of people they wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to talk to;
- to provide people with a fresh view into the diversity of the community and build understanding of others in the community;
- to encourage new ideas and ways of thinking;
- to celebrate differences; and
- to promote tolerance.
“I think it gives people an opportunity to learn about people in our community,” Subnaik Kilgour reasoned.
“It’s a great way to build community.”
This year’s “books” have yet been confirmed yet and Subnaik Kilgour said she still is accepting more.
If anyone is interested in sharing their story of facing diversity, or knows of someone who would make an interesting “book,” call the library at 274-9879.
“One of the great features of the “Human Library” is that there are no such thing as stupid questions.
“‘Books’ have been prepared, and made themselves available, in order for you to be able to dig deep and find out what you always wanted to know about the ‘book’ title,” the website noted.
But Subnaik Kilgour added all those participating must show respect to one another in order for the event to reach its full potential.
The event is being held as part of Ontario Public Library Week.