Instead of a book, patrons of Ottawa’s city libraries will have a chance to check out a stripper, a prostitute, a Somali refugee, a judge, an HIV-positive man, a Peking Opera performer, a woman born as a man, a police officer, or a bipolar man as part of a Human Library program. Billed as “real people, real conversations,” the Ottawa Public Library is bringing dozens of people with diverse experiences into its branches, encouraging patrons to check them out for a 20-minute, one-on-one chat.
“I’m actually really nervous. I’m going to be sitting in a chair with a sign behind me saying ‘HIV-positive.’ Does it feel a little like a human zoo? To some degree, but my hope is that anyone who comes to this is interested in a two-way conversation,” said Grant Cobb, a peer-engagement worker with the AIDS Committee of Ottawa who has volunteered to be loaned out.
It sounds like a great idea to help patrons see the world from another person's perspective. Each branch will have a different array of human books to choose from.