It is common knowledge the word library is associated with books taken out on loan by avid readers. What I didn’t know was the existence of human libraries. At first glance I imagined a room full of bodies being “taken out”, and that the word library was a dignified substitute for morgues.
Far from it. The idea took route in Denmark and is a way of creating a special dialogue room, as opposed to a reading room, where taboo topics are discussed openly and without condemnation. A place where people who would otherwise never talk find room for conversation.
According to the creators, the concept is similar to that of a traditional library. “If a book is read and discussed or shared among like-minded readers, the Human Library has people engaging in conversations. Like books, participants of the Human Library can be picked from a list to engage in conversations and share stories on a one on one basis”.
What a super idea. Imagine a BLM supporter sitting down with say, Donald Trump, each exchanging views in a dignified and civilized manner? Or a Catholic comparing dogma with a Protestant? All parties coming away with more understanding and tolerance?
Evidently there are 85 countries already engaged in human libraries. And given the current situation in South Africa, with its own prejudices, these libraries would be of great benefit.
That it all started in Denmark, spreading to Switzerland and Norway, is no surprise. Inhabitants of these countries take things seriously, flippancy a no-no. And I can’t help imagining a meeting between say, two Swiss okes, particularly known for their stoicism. Introductions alone could whittle away the thirty minutes allowed for each session. My granddad was Swiss – and a churchman, so I know this to be true.
It would go something like this:
“Good morning, Herr Buchler”.
Before answering, the gentleman pops outside, looks at the sky, comes back and says, “Yes, not too bad. What is your name?”
“Why? Don’t you trust me? Where do you hail from?”
“Of what importance is that? Is it a class thing?”
The last fifteen minutes are spent arguing the pros and cons of the canton system of governance.
They say their respective goodbyes.
Sadly, here even conventional libraries are targeted by protesting arsonists, so human ones are still afar. Wahnsinnig!
Posted on: 09:11 Wed, 26 August 2020
Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Garden Route District: