At Toronto's Human Library You Check Out People, Not Books

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At Toronto's Human Library You Check Out People, Not Books At Toronto's Human Library You Check Out People, Not Books
Culture

At Toronto's Human Library You Check Out People, Not Books

by Theo Schell-Lambert

January 8, 2011

Surely it’s the first time the comment “I can read you like a book” has received the response “OK, just return me in half an hour.” The so-called Human Library, a one-day program held in November at five branches of the Toronto Public Library, allowed the reading public the chance to book time with some uniquely fleshed out plots: that is, the stories of actual people. For 30 minutes each, visitors could “check out” and glean stories from volunteers, who were selected for their compelling backgrounds. “We heard about the idea in 2009 when other libraries from around the world began having ‘Living Libraries,’” says Anne Marie Aikins of the TPL. The Library saw it as tool for engaging community and sharing information—and diverse Toronto seemed, says Aikins, “perfectly suited” for this sort of program.

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