Human Library Lets you Check Out People at Vancouver’s PuSh Festival

Photo credit: HumanLibrary.org

The Vancouver Public Library has 2.8 million items in its collection: books, DVDs, periodicals and – starting Jan. 18 – even people.

As part of the PuSh Arts Festival, the library will be loaning out 30 human books – real, live people that you check out and chat with one-on-one for 20-30 minutes.  And from the titles, these human books sound like real page-turners: Polyamorous, Drag Queen, Occupy Activist and Refugee . . . to name a few.

The inspiration for the event comes from Copenhagen, Denmark, where the first Human Library was launched in 2000 as a way to fight stereotypes and promote dialogue in the community.  The human books typically represent stigmatized or marginalized groups of people – religious minorities, sexual minorities and others exposed to misconceptions and prejudice.

The hope is that curious readers will get to know these people on an individual level and learn more about their beliefs.  So far, human libraries have connected thousands of readers with human books in 65 countries.

Of course, to check out a human book, you first need to have a human library card. To participate in the unique event, head to the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch on the show dates.  On the third floor, you’ll find a special PuSh Festival circulation desk where you’re issued a human library card, good for access to one of the 30 human books.  Here’s a video from a past Human Library event:

Check out the title of your choice and enjoy an intimate and eyeopening chat with someone from a radically different background.  The Human Library is free, and books are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Human Library runs at the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch, Jan. 18-20, 25-27 and Feb. 1-3 from noon-4 p.m.  For more information, visit the PuSh Festival website.

What do you think about the Human Library idea? Weigh in below.  

Want more updates on unique happenings in Vancouver and beyond? Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.

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