The Human Library

Human Libraries are springing up all over the world. During these events, people become “living books” that can be signed out by library patrons and “read” via sharing their experiences. It is a great way to create stronger social cohesion and understanding among library community members.

I learned about this library phenomenon at the AAAL (Alberta Association of Academic Libraries) Fall 2010 Meeting.  At the meeting, librarian Melinda Spears talked about her experiences organizing a Human Library at Grant MacEwan University. Similar events have taken place in Canada at a number of public and academic libraries including:

Inspired by these events, RDC librarian/learning designer Sona Macnaughton and I organized a Human Instruction Library last December whereby faculty acted as living books specializing in specific topics around instruction strategies and technologies. This Spring we hope to do this event once more.

Similarly, the Ontario Library Association hosted a Human Library at the 2011 Super Conference. Here, delegates could sign out professionals to hear about their career experiences.

Taking these ideas further, at some point I would like to try a “human training library” and allow library staff to sign out other staff with expertise in a certain area.

To learn more about organizing a Human Library, take a look at: Don’t judge a book by its cover: The Living Library Organizer’s Guide.

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