Library Archives

Human Libraries: Modern Day Oral Storytelling

In books, I am swept up in the story of another life, and whisked away to an alternative reality. In oral storytelling, I am drawn in further; it’s like I can visualize, more clearly, the story and the characters as a result of the visual cues, the emotions, the facial expressions and the first-hand experiences. This is why I was so excited about the Surrey Libraries (Semiahmoo Branch) Human Library initiative. I could borrow a human book to hear a story and ask questions as the tale unfolded.

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I rented two human books (believe me, I wanted to rent more!): Christian-Catholic (Peter) and Pagans-Order of Scáthach (Michael and Sara Lasure). I was given 20 minutes to converse with each and, let me tell you, it was fun, enlightening and heartwarming. Each ‘book’ explained their journey to finding their religion and the impact it had on them and how they connect with their world. Each explained the guidelines of their religion to me in simplistic terms, enthralling me in the process. Each answered any question I had with patience and respect.

I left with a sense that something in me had shifted and I spent some time reflecting on the impact of what I received during this brief encounter. What I realized is this:

      • I received a human connection to the story being told; a first person perspective full of raw experience, emotion and history.
      • I became hungry to learn more about each respective religion.
      • I connected to another person, at a very deep level, within the 20 minutes; deepened by the lack of fear I had in asking questions and receiving profound responses in return.
      • I increased my knowledge about another religion and expanded my world as a result.
      • I was connected to a person within the religion who I could contact if I had further questions.

I am looking forward to the next Human Library when it hits a library in the Lower Mainland and I would encourage you to participate in this transformative experience. In the meantime, I have some reading to do!