‘Human books’ read for library audiences

Get a Life Festival, a ‘human library’ experience, planned for county libraries in Ontario in conjunction with Library Month in October

Some lives are open books while others are a bit more closed, or so it is said. Life’s moments, experiences and episodes are often equated with chapters in a book, resulting in many stories to tell.
If wisdom comes from experience, then sharing that experience can be a positive occasion. In conjunction with October being Library Month, libraries across Simcoe County are providing a platform for the exchange of wisdom and ideas in the form of ‘human books,’ personalities who will share their life stories with listeners.
The Get a Life Festival will be held in conjunction with other activities structured to celebrate libraries. Library systems in Barrie, Innisfil, Orillia, and Bradford are participating in the ‘human library’ project, which got its start Copenhagen, Denmark in 2001.
Goals for the festival include providing an experience which is socially and culturally diverse, aimed at an audience “prepared to expand its understanding, compassion, tolerance and wisdom in areas that may be exciting, fun-filled, illuminating, thoughtful-provoking and controversial,” says Robin Munro, one of the festival’s organizers.
Spotlight speakers include Susan McLelland, whose writing has appeared in a number of publications, such as The Miami Herald, The Globe and Mail, Elle, Canadian Living, The Walrus, The Guardian (UK), and The London Times. She’ll be at the Barrie Public Library Sept. 24. Her accomplishments include the 2005 and 2008 Amnesty International Media Award for excellence in human rights reporting.
Author Eva Olsson will be at the Orillia Public Library on Sept. 23. A survivor of the Holocaust, Olsson has related her experiences to more than a million people. She speaks on the need to stand up to bullying and injustice.
During October, four Saturdays will be set aside for the exchange of ideas and experiences, between the ‘human books’ and their audiences. The ‘books’ will share their unique life experiences – their backgrounds, careers, choices and the wisdom gained from it all. Some ‘human books’ will be invited to read. Others can volunteer through the Get a Life Festival website.
The readers, members of the participating communities, will have “enquiring minds and a quest for relevance in our modern world.” A selection of books, chosen from library surveys or website-based requests, will be available for recitation.

“Libraries are the cornerstone of Western civilization, from the monasteries that preserved the wisdom of Greek thought in the Dark Ages to the extraordinary commitment and generosity of Andrew Carnegie in building libraries throughout the towns and cities in North America.

“In keeping with these historic traditions, the Get a Life Festival will endow our region with an opportunity to appeal to and elevate the higher nature of our citizens, and to further the socio-cultural evolution of our multi-faceted, progressive society,” offers Munro.
For more information on the festival’s schedule, click here.

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