Saturday saw the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) host its first Human Library as part of the Big Day of Belonging festival.
After a member of the public approached our team asking about a “scheme where you could borrow people like library books”, I contacted the global Human Library organisation in Denmark and also Toronto Library’s Linda Hazzan, who runs one of the world’s most outstanding Human Library programs. Linda in Toronto, Ronni Abergel in Denmark, and Greg Watson of Human Library Australia all provided advice and mentoring to us.
Human Libraries let you borrow people instead of books for a short conversation with someone you might not ordinarily meet in your day-to-day life: people with unusual life experiences or special skills, people who are marginalised or stigmatised in society, people who are – as we all are – well worth listening to.
SLQ’s Amelia Kalifa managed the project, organising a stall for the Big Day of Belonging and, together with fellow SLQ Brisbanites Kevin Wilson and Emma Constance, recruiting a dozen volunteers for the day. I contributed a couple of “human books”, delivered training sessions for our volunteers, and then unleashed them on an unsuspecting world last Saturday.
We’re only just into the debrief for the Big Day of Belonging, but the Human Library was a great success and we’ll now be planning how to translate that pilot into an ongoing program, either for SLQ or one of our peer & partner organisations. It’s a great way to support communities by helping people to have face-to-face contact with those who might otherwise be strangers to them.
Like Fun Palaces, if you’d like to set up your own Human Library event anywhere in the world, you just contact Human Library HQ in Denmark, via their website. It’s well worth checking out.