What a creative idea! “Human resources” took on a whole new meaning at the new Surrey City Centre Library that just opened this summer. Recognizing the wealth of knowledge stored in the brains of community members, a “human library” will be featured. Library users will be able to “check out” an expert from the list of volunteers who have offered to share their wisdom and experience.
The “live books” will not be lined up under the Dewey Decimal System nor have bar code labels on their foreheads. Instead they will be available by topics for short sessions with borrowers.
Douglas College in New Westminster and Coquitlam had the first “Living Library” in Canada following a European idea. “Flesh and Blood” books on a wide range of topics were signed out by multiple borrowers eager to learn.
Inter-active learning has been proven to be more effective than passive absorption through reading or listening. “Live books” would be sitting right beside you to receive feed-back and answer questions. Personal narratives of coping with challenges have a big impact coming straight from someone’s life story. Seniors sometimes feel that they have been “left on the shelf” as innovations in communication escalate. But technology cannot take the place of human contact. Knowledge has been passed on by oral tradition and storytelling for centuries and is still an effective method. What a great idea it would be to open a dialogue between young students and seniors. Children would learn a whole lot more in a chat with a pioneer or a veteran than from a history book.
What if we could select from the following catalogue of Agassiz-Harrison Volunteer “live books”:
Running the Boston Marathon, Escape from East Berlin, Chef to the Queen, Holopchi and Borscht with Baba, Sasquatch Sightings, Sturgeon Fishing in Harrison Lake, 80 Years of Composting, Agassiz in the 1930s, The Fraser Flood of ’48, My War Years, Coping with Stroke (vision loss, deafness etc.)
That would pretty well cover Sports, Fitness, Careers, Folk Lore, History (local and world), Cooking, Self-Help and Organic Gardening.
Terrill Scott of the Agassiz Library says that Fraser Valley Regional has explored the possibility of a similar program and it might be tried in future. One thing we know for sure is that our community could fill many “shelves” with “human books” of knowledge available for browsing.