Wanted: local humans to serve as library books

Books, movies and CDs aren’t the only things library patrons can check out at Long Beach’s main branch. For one day only, Saturday, May 31 from 1pm to 4 pm, the Main Library, in collaboration with the Long Beach Time Exchange, the Long Beach Free School and the youth organization Eayikes, will expand their offerings to include people.
Human libraries are events that promote tolerance and celebrate differences by setting up space for one-on-one conversation between participants, or “readers,” and people from various unique backgrounds, or “human books.” Just like at regular libraries, readers “check out” a book they’re interested in to learn more about the subject. Unlike regular books, readers can ask human books questions and engage in discussion.
Those interested in nominating someone to be a “book” can do so until the end of April through the Long Beach Time Exchange by emailing lbtimeexchange@gmail.com and putting “Human Library Book Nomination” in the subject line. Organizers are specifically looking for people who have a unique story to tell and are comfortable discussing their “subject” and receiving respectful/non-rude questions from participants.
Past human library books have included vegans, funeral directors, immigrants, police, people with disabilities, drag queens, cancer patients, ex-gang members, people who are HIV-positive, graffiti artists, people who are transgender and former prostitutes. So far, the Long Beach Human Library’s collection of “books” includes a formerly incarcerated woman who helps other women with similar backgrounds to transition back into community life, a transgender person, an advocate for public breastfeeding and a retired cop.
The first human library was held in 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark by the five youth activists behind Stop the Violence, an organization created in response to a friend’s stabbing. The idea for human libraries came when they were encouraged to come up with dialogue-inducing, anti-violence activities for a local festival. Their concept focused on breaking down prejudice through peaceful conversation and storytelling.
Since then, hundreds of human-library events have been created all over the world. In Southern California, the Santa Monica Public Library hosted one in 2008.
The Main Library is located at 101 Pacific Ave. To learn more about Long Beach Public Library services and events, call (562) 570-7500 or visit lbpl.org . For more information about the human library, contact Rachael Rifkin at lifestories2day@gmail.com .
The Catalyst Network of Communities is a 501c3 nonprofit social-impact organization helping people to connect, collaborate and share resources by creating projects that inspire empathy and understanding between people.

Source: Catalyst Network

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