U of G Hosts ‘Human Library’

March 01, 2011 - News Release

A sexual violence survivor, an atheist and a drag queen are among the “human books” that will be available for loan during the University of Guelph’s third annual Human Library event March 3 and 4.

Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., volunteer human books will represent groups that may face prejudice and stereotyping. “Readers” wishing to confront their own prejudices or learn more about the lives of others can borrow a book for 30 minutes of discussion.

“This event offers a safe place where people are given the permission and opportunity to ask questions of someone who is willing to be open and honest about their life experiences,” said event organizer and U of G librarian Janet Kaufman. “We hope that having these one-on-one conversations helps puts a human face to discrimination.”

Almost 30 books have been confirmed this year, with many returning from last year and others introducing new topics.

“We always try to bring in new books each year, but there are topics that people seem to always request, so we do welcome participating books back for the following year,” said Kaufman.

The new 'books' will discuss sexual violence, teen depression, epilepsy, invisible disabilities, adoption, bullying, Catholicism and guide dogs.

Readers may book a session on the main floor of the library during the event or reserve a session in advance before March 2 by visiting the Human Library website.

Books and readers may use library areas to talk, ask questions and learn about each other.

“Maintaining an atmosphere of respect is crucial,” said Kaufman. “Both the books and readers are told they can end the discussion at any time if they feel uncomfortable, but we’ve had no instances of that happening. In fact, we’ve had very positive evaluations from both groups.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or dhealey@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1