29 May 2012 A Book for the Day!
On the weekend I participated in an event known as the human library in my hometown of Cardiff, however the event is going on in cities all around the world. Now a human library may sound odd and admittedly, I was a little confused by the concept, so I’ll give you all a brief overview of what it actually is. Basically, it involves three types of people. First are the books (like me). Second was the readers: these were the general public who could come and loan the books and then read them. Third was the librarian who oversaw the loaning. When a reader loans a book, the two people go off into a quiet area where the reader can ask the book anything about them. Each book had to pick their own book title which summed up their ‘stereotype’ and made people want to come and talk to them. The event had people from a diverse range of backgrounds including a gypsy, a priest, a muslim girl, a man from Syria and quite a few others including me who was holding the side up for the disabled along with another guy. So that was the concept, but would it actually work in reality?
The event had obviously involved a huge amount of organisation, including training for all the books. However, as I only returned from university the day before the event, winging it was more of a plan for the day. When I arrived, the first hitch became apparent. The event was to be held in a separate part of the museum on the lower level, but the lift had broke. No-one seemed overly thrown by this and plans were made to split the books on the ground and lower floor so I wasn’t left on my own. Luckily the lift was fixed (sort of) and I was allowed to go down with the phrase, don’t worry we’re get you back out somehow if the lift breaks again. So with all the books in place, the public started to drift in from outside. I was surprised to see so many take an interest, as within seconds there were queues for certain books. I, however, wasn’t one... awkward! Luckily, ten minutes in I was loaned out. Now I was quite unsure as to what I would be talking about, but to my relief people were intrigued by my book title and so the questions kept flowing and I managed to babble on about myself for between 15-20 minutes. I choose the title “they told me I never would” which was referring to society’s general view that disabled people won’t/can’t do the same things as non-disabled people. It clearly proved a title that interested people because I was constantly loaned out for most of the event, having a couple of brief two minutes to rest my voice! My readers were varied and included a lecturer, a woman from a France, a family and a couple of students. Despite the variety, the questions remained fairly similar which I think reinforces the whole stereotypical image and how it is believed by so many different people.
Overall, the day was very enjoyable. I got to meet people that I would normally have not come across. The readers also seem to appreciate the event, saying how useful it is to be able to ask questions in an appropriate setting. We all know how curious people can be towards something “not normal” and this event proves that. But it also showed how people want to know about diversity but are just not given any real way to do it. We definitely need more events like this, as questions will soon lead to understanding and acceptance.