Public Section Report

Submitted by Leticia Cuenca


Face à face: The Human and Living Library Projects at McGill University, Concordia University and Pointe-Claire Public Library


On May 16th, 2012, the ABQLA Public Libraries Section hosted a presentation about Human Library projects. The event was held at the Westmount Public Library. The Human Library Project, where visitors speak informally with “people on loan”, is an initiative to reduce prejudice and promote understanding through dialogue. Our event presented an overview of how different Human Library events have been organized in local academic, and public libraries. Trudy Blumstein, one of the co-organizers of the Living Library at McGill University, explained the origins of the Human Library project and how the Living Library was organized at McGill, and she spoke about plans for future editions of the Living Library. Trudy was accompanied by one of the living books that had participated in the Living Library, with the title “Please Don’t Shout – I’m Only Blind”. It was very interesting to hear first-hand from one of the living books, as he discussed the reactions and questions he received from people who “borrowed” him.


Katharine Hall and Pamela Carson, coordinators of Concordia University’s Human Library, gave the audience a step-by-step account of how they planned their event, including how to find and interview prospective human books and how to promote the event. They also shared lessons learned from the project, and suggestions for organizing future Human Library events.


Mary-Jane O’Neill, organizer of the Human Library at Pointe-Claire Public Library, explained how the Human Library idea was adapted for the celebration of the City of Pointe-Claire’s 100th anniversary. Mary-Jane explained how their project was organized and how the community actively participated, both in the roles of human books and borrowers.


All presenters provided a wealth of practical tips and advice, and feedback from attendees was extremely positive. We received comments that the presentations had been very inspiring and had given the attendees plenty of ideas of how a Human Library event can be organized. We wish to thank all of our great speakers for their time and dedication, and the Westmount Public Library for providing the venue for the event.


Names in the picture (L to R): Karen Biskin, Katharine Hall, Pamela Carson, Mary-Jane O’Neill, Trudy Blumstein, John Heath, Leticia Cuenca.