Calling all humans: Baltimore County needs thoughts and memories for 'Human Library' at Owings Mills

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County’s Owings Mills branch library is looking for about a dozen people to serve as “living books” in the library system’s first-ever Human Library — an initiative in which people of different ethnicities, beliefs and experiences can get “checked out” by library patrons.

Through the Human Library, people make themselves available “on loan” to readers for segments of about 15 minutes to exchange ideas and discuss experiences on a variety of issues.

Library officials said in a press release that the goal is to build “a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.” The public will be invited to “check out” a living book and learn about the person’s life experience through questions and conversations.

Readers will drop by the branch to “get their read on like never before with a living person that represents a topic of stigma or stereotyping,” library officials said.

Paula Miller, director of the Baltimore County Public Library system, sees the project as “an opportunity to connect, share stories and strengthen understanding among people with different experiences and backgrounds.”

The Owings Mills branch is seeking 12 to 15 participants — 18 years or older — to volunteer between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, April 21.

Those who are interested in being a “human book” may apply at the Human Library Book Application link by March 5.

The Human Library project stems from a nonprofit in Copenhagen, Denmark, that created it around 2000. According to its Facebook page, the organization has seen Human Library projects in more than 70 countries worldwide, from Poland to Great Britain and Chicago to Mesa, Ariz. Those involved offer experiences on issues ranging from history to homelessness, race relations to parenting.

“We publish people like open books,” the group states.

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