By MARYSSA MCFADDEN
People are introduced to libraries at a very young age. They are a place to go to learn, read and discover people and situations they never knew existed.
Since 2012, Conestoga College has been taking the concept of a library to a whole new level, by holding a Human Library event. The concept started in Denmark and has occurred all over the world ever since. Rather than a book, you “check out” a person, who will tell you about a significant experience or part of his or her life.
The event has a wide variety of human “books” who have all sorts of interesting backgrounds or who have experiences from all over the world.
“We have community members who have experienced addiction, have learning disabilities, physical disabilities such as blindness, mental illnesses including schizophrenia, or have volunteered at an orphanage in Zambia, or live with HIV, just to name a few,” said Laura Black, co-ordinator of Conestoga College’s Human Library event.
The purpose of the Human Library is to challenge perceptions typically made by society as well as to give the community a first-hand account of what it is like to experience something which others can’t even fathom.
Nikole Hunt, who attended a past Human Library event, said, “Everyone can get caught up in their own problems and issues, but sitting for a short time and being able to hear what it was like for a man to be homeless or for a woman who is living with mental illness really made me appreciate what I have. I would definitely like to go to another event like this in the future.”
One of the fun and interesting parts of the Human Library is that you can never predict what you will experience and learn while there.
“What students generally expect before they come to the event is not usually what they leave thinking. I think students are surprised by the differences in each individual in our community and the resilience that people have throughout their life stories,” Black said.
The event will take place at Conestoga College’s Doon campus on Thursday, Jan. 29 in the Library Resource Centre from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.