Human Library is an experiential work that began in Denmark 15 years ago when a group of young people created a project to promote dialogue, following a hate crime against a friend. Today there are Human Libraries in 65 countries and thousands of people around the world have engaged in conversation with strangers.
Two years ago The Murray Chronicles visited The Human Library at Vancouver's annual PuSh Festival when Sherry was a "book." The Vancouver event has grown significantly since. Located in the Vancouver Public Library's main branch downtown it's attracting more and more "borrowers" every year.
Under the thoughtful direction of Dave Deveau and Zee Zee Theatre, Human Library in Vancouver is gaining attention within the community, and the PuSh Festival itself, as a way to connect in ways beyond the capability of our digital devices. These are real conversations with real people. It can be uncomfortable for some, and rewarding for all.
Up the escalator to the third level, then to your left ,is where you can check out your "books." And it's at this point you begin to realise that it's all about having a conversation with a stranger, without any filters. It's twenty minutes of getting to learn something about someone you might otherwise never meet, and to breaking down the assumptions that limit your view of the world. It's not so much about the "book" as it is about you: the reader.
There are over twenty titles this year, including The Upside of Depression, Life in a Pinball Machine, Single Mom of 3 Boys, Pill-popping, Prostitute, Psychotic…Politician, Letting go of Letting go, and Gay Teen at the Height of AIDS. And Sherry is back too.
Human Library runs on weekends through Sunday, February 7th. Like public libraries everywhere, it's free and highly worthwhile. No late fees.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.