Wednesday, 20 April 2011

LIKE24 Event – Human Library

Last night saw LIKE members once again met at the Crown Tavern in Clerkenwell – although this time there was a huge crowd of people socialising outside in the sunshine and it was tempting to linger there instead of going inside!
Linda Constable, Senior Manager Customer Services at Dorset County Council joined us from Bournemouth to run a Human Library event for LIKE members. 
As part of the booking process for the event some delegates volunteered to be ‘books’ by nominating a topic.  On the night Linda gave a passionate description of the project and some of the feedback she has received from participants in events she has run around the country as part of a CILIP and MLA project.
Human Library is designed as a tool to encourage the breaking down of cross-cultural barriers and help people exchange ideas and share experiences.  It can give a voice to dis-enfranchised people who might otherwise feel marginalised.  Linda gave a poignant example of a ‘book’ on knitting being ‘read’ by a young mother at one event, where the ‘reader’ admitted that although she loved knitting her husband wouldn’t allow her to “waste time” doing it.  What could have been a superficial encounter about a hobby became a much more meaningful dialogue about women’s rights and interpersonal relationships in the home.
At LIKE I had the chance to be both a ‘reader’ and later on during the evening a ‘book’.  As the former I learnt about mountaineering, and specifically ice climbing in Norway.  As the latter I had 3 ‘readers’ asking me all about online gaming – from what it was exactly through to what I got out of it.
In a work environment, as opposed to a community library setting, this technique could be used to facilitate knowledge sharing.  For this the ‘books’ would need to be on ‘non-fiction’ topics such as ‘how to do xxx’ or ‘what to do in yy situation’, rather than from the auto-biographical genre.
- Nicola Franklin

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