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A Human Book, not an eBook: What if You Could Borrow a Legal Scholar (from your library) for an Hour?


I loved this story. It’s not the first time a library has offered this service, but it becomes more intriguing every time I hear about the service. I live in a region of the country that is rich in great people and excellent public libraries, but every community has fascinating people and maybe even a small library could do this. Maybe one could even Rent-a-Lawyer to raise money for a good cause?

Library of humans: Guelph University lends people for 30-minute talks on prejudice, by, March 5th, 2010

When Chris Langley volunteered to help out with a project at his university library last year, he didn’t imagine he’d wind up becoming a book. The 25-year-old master’s student was intrigued by the notion of a human library, a space in which prospective readers scheduled half-hour time slots with real people and engaged in direct conversations about prejudice.

As an atheist, Langley felt his views and experience could help fill a niche in the library’s catalogue and immediately put himself into circulation. The last-minute addition proved a popular attraction, with all but one of his available time slots filling up over a two-day stretch. The atheist book was back on shelves for the 2010 edition of the human library, which began Thursday at the University of Guelph. The man behind the cover is keen to re-engage with readers on an issue he feels is often misunderstood. “The prejudice I feel is invisible. It’s more a stigma attached to the label,” Langley said in a telephone interview from the university campus. “We’re thought of as evil, callous and even shallow.”…’

Guelph staff member Lisbeth Sider had her preconceived notions challenged last year when she checked out a book entitled “Sri Lankan Conflict Survivor.” Expecting to hear harrowing tales of domestic terrorism, Sider instead listened to accounts of rebels who treated those on the opposing side with relative kindness despite their profound political differences. “It’s not all black and white,” she said. “You expect one thing and when you come out of it the reality is something very different.”

Such shifts in perspective are what the human library is all about, according to Mike Ridley, the university’s head librarian. By bringing in books who were willing to engage in candid conversations on difficult subjects, organizers strove to turn the library into a place where taboos were cast aside and meaningful engagement was promoted among members of the campus community and beyond….’ (Link to full story.)

(Thanks to Library Link of the Day for the story lead.)

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