Sunday, 25 March 2012

A Day in the Life of a Book

Yesterday I was a book. I was titled "Spirit and Adventure". (Wow, big surprise there!) I was about mountain climbing, policing and community involvement. 

The Human Library started about 10 years ago in Denmark and is now held in over 30 countries. This was the first such event held in Saskatoon at the Francis Morrison Library

The Human Library is an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding. . . Visitors to a Human Library are given the opportunity to speak informally with “people on loan”; this latter group being extremely varied in age, sex and cultural background. [It] enables groups to break stereotypes by challenging the most common prejudices in a positive and humorous manner. It is a concrete, easily transferable and affordable way of promoting tolerance and understanding.

There were a lot of really interesting “books” in the library yesterday! The organizers did a great job of choosing what they thought would be best sellers. The "readers" could sign out a "book" for 30 minutes and ask questions to learn as much about the book as they could. During the breaks I got to have some short but interesting reads of other books. 

My first "reader".
My first reader was an absolutely lovely and engaging young girl whose family is from Ghana. We talked more than she "read" but we had a wonderful conversation, mostly about mountains, African countries and animals seen on safari. The 30 minutes flew by!

My next two readers wanted to know more about policing; what it's been like being a woman in the police service and challenges that I may have faced. My fourth reader was interested in it all but I mostly told him about the community involvement side of things, particularly my involvement in the community in a police role. All were excellent and fun readers.

My last reader of the day was not really a reader. She started out almost a bit confrontational with short, blunt questions. “You’re a police officer, right?” “Do you work in homicide?” “What kinds of things can I ask you about?” I really wondered where all this was going. I encouraged her to ask me what she wanted to. Long story short, her adult daughter went missing a number of years ago. Several months later her daughter’s body was located under very suspicious circumstances. Despite DNA evidence confirming identity, she does not believe this was her daughter and that her daughter is still out there somewhere. Police (and everyone else) don’t believe this and of course there is a big cover up and conspiracy going on.

I didn’t say much at all other than to ask a couple questions to clarify what she was saying and at the end of the 30 minutes she thanked me and said she really appreciated that I listened to her. It was quite sad.

Anyway, overall it was a very good day. I would definitely encourage others to be a book sometime as I think we all have something to unique to offer. 

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