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The Human Library Project And The Future Of Libraries

I saw this picture over at Pinterest titled ‘The Human Library Project’ and I just knew there had to be some sort of interesting story behind it, and there is: Apparently at the Toronto Public Library humans have become library books :).

It’s part of a new worldwide movement called The Human Library Project where they take people who lead unusual and interesting lives and make them available for anyone to sit and talk with at the library.

According to Yonge Street Media the people range from Buddhist monks to cancer survivors to police officers and they are all ready to tell you stories about their experiences in life or answer any questions you might have.

The idea behind the project is that it will help to reduce prejudice in the world but I think there’s also another important aspect to it.

With the rise of the digital age libraries are finding it harder and harder to stay relevant in people’s lives, especially when it comes to the physical space of the buildings themselves. Many libraries are in crisis or even facing complete losses of funding but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I think going forward libraries can still continue and excel at their core purpose of educating and enriching the community but they will have to evolve into more of a community center type role. The Human Library Project is a great example of the kinds of things that can be offered in this new capacity.

That face to face real life interaction can’t be replaced by the internet or computers and I don’t think that people would ever even want it to. There’s so much value in the kinds of human connections that can only be made when people are actually in the same building as each other and this is something that libraries are in a perfect position to facilitate and foster.

The libraries of our great grandchildren (or even sooner probably) will be vastly different than anything we know now. Hopefully the difference doesn’t turn out to be empty buildings but instead ones filled with people learning and interacting with each other through programs like The Human Library Project.

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The Book That Reads Us

(picture by dhannte)

“A real book is not one that we read but one that reads us.”
W. H. Auden