On November 3, 2012, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) hosted a Human Library in partnership with the Central Library. The Human Library was first established in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000 by a group of young people who wanted to do something to challenge the rising phenomenon of homophobia and anti-Islam sentiment they saw around them. Subsequently Human Library activities have been organised in approximately 65 countries around the world, making it a clever, frightening, innovative, international educational movement for social justice and change. The Human Library is best described as an equalities project. Traditionally, the mandate of a library is to provide information to public through written sources. The Human Library broadens this through a practice of Living Books who educate through stories of their real life experiences. The method is designed to promote active dialogue to break stereotypes, challenge intolerance, prejudice and ignorance. It uses a positive, intimate, non-threatening and engaging process, most often one-on-one dialogue with a person one would not necessarily come into contact with in her or his daily life. The Books offer a diverse range of humanity, varied in age, sex, employment and cultural background.They make themselves available to be ?checked out?, to use a library term, for 20-minute intervals of informal conversation. Readers self-select the Book with whom they would like to interact, through this self-directed learning model, are exposed to distinctive ideas, identities, experiences, and backgrounds.
In the global sphere of the Human Library, Canada is doing something unique. Commonly, the Human Library is confined to a library. However, in Canada there are partnerships between libraries and art galleries or museums. The Human Library at the Art Gallery is a case in point, as is the partnership between the Canadian War Museum and the Central Library in Ottawa. Further, in many parts of Canada, the CBC ? our public broadcaster – has played a key role in publicizing the event as well as identifying Books and interviewing some on radio.