Human library books have story to tell

Oct 1, 2012 | News

By Heather VanAndel

Chris Upfold, the chief customer officer of the TTC, talking to a visitor as a book at the Toronto Public Library last year. COURTESY KEN SPARLING

People are familiar with taking books out from the library, but globally, loaning out ‘human books’ has become very popular.

Annual human library events allow residents of Toronto to interact and communicate with people that have a story to tell,  but it is also a learning and growing opportunity for the human books.

“People who sign up to be books have the opportunity to talk about their projects,” Amy Lavender Harris, author of award winning Imagining Toronto and a human book for the library this year, told Humber News. “Everyone I know who has been involved as a book has had a positive and enjoyable experience.”

Accustomed to speaking at public events and with professional media, Harris said she is looking forward to exploring the different dimension of talking to individuals when it comes to her personal writings.

“As a writer, your relationship with the audience is a distant one,” she said. Communicating with individuals on a personal level is something she does not often get to experience. “I look forward to hearing about their intellectual opinion, as well as their emotional opinion.”

This year the Toronto Public Library will be loaning out 20 human books. Each book will be available for seven half-hour time sessions. This allows the library to accommodate the 140 visitors they are anticipating, Ken Starling, communications officer at the Toronto Public Library told Humber News.

Though there is no official theme, Starling said that six of their books are entrepreneurs, in ties with October being Small Business Month. These books get the opportunity to share their knowledge and stories with other striving entrepreneurs.

Other library branches in Toronto, such as Parkdale, are working in collaboration with Library Settlement Partnership Days with their focus on newcomers.

Parkdale’s eight confirmed books are all local residents and focus on immigration into Canada, Elton D’Costa, the youth and adult service librarian at the Parkdale branch, told Humber News . These books can use their own experiences to help and answer the questions of individuals who are dealing with the similar difficulties.

In past years the events have generated positive responses throughout Toronto.

“If there has been negative feedback it has been isolated,” Starling said.


[SlideDeck2 id=5784]