Featured Library: Toronto Public Library
Angela Hanshaw | November 02, 2010
This month, Toronto Public Library is launching a Human Library. To be offered in five branches on November 6, this pilot program will allow library cardholders to borrow from a selection of nearly sixty human books, individuals who have been carefully selected because of their unique life experiences. Through positive, personal dialogue, the program is focused on encouraging new ideas and ways of thinking, celebrating differences, and promoting tolerance.
Cardholders can put one book on reserve, and books can be checked out for thirty minutes. Here are just a few of the books available through the program:
Brandon Hibbs is a twelfth-grade high school student with cerebral palsy who knows a lot about how disability affects people. He likes to play hockey and engage in open, honest conversations about disabilities with children and teens as well as adults. This inspiring book will teach you about the power of the human spirit.
While working in a convenience store in Toronto in 1983, then eighteen-year-old Barbara Turnbull was gunned down during a robbery. Today, she lives on her own as a high-level quadriplegic with the assistance of her service dog, Bella. Barbara joined the staff of the Toronto Star in 1990 and is now a reporter in the Living section. In 1997 Barbara told her own story in a very frank autobiography, Looking in the Mirror. A painfully honest book.
As a functionally illiterate teen, Dr. Anthony Hutchinson got courage from his gang colors. Anthony finally learned to read through song lyrics from records he borrowed from a public library, so he put down his guns and picked up a guitar. In 1983, he finally quit the gang life even though he was struggling with homelessness and depression. The Malvern branch was his lifeline to the world and where he eventually launched a heroic career helping at-risk youth.
When Kyle Vose was just sixteen, his mother died suddenly and his father abandoned him. As he raised his little brother on his own, Kyle faced a series of further unbelievable tragedies. And then at the age of thirty, he was diagnosed with HIV, eventually becoming an activist for people living with HIV/AIDS and poverty. This inspirational book would “rather your conscious mind is infected with information about HIV rather than for you to be infected with HIV.”
Suhail Abualsameed was born in Irbed and is a member of Salaam, a gay Muslim group that works to “spread a message of peace and tolerance.” Suhail also runs the Immigrant Youth Project at Supporting Our Youth, an organization that works to improve the lives of gay youth. This amazing book will help you understand the meaning of struggle.
The Human Library is based on Living Libraries, which was first launched in Copenhagen in the early 1990s to combat prejudice and raise awareness through one-on-one dialogue. Countries all over the world now hold human libraries.
Angela Hanshaw is Program Officer/Web Editor for the ALA Public Programs Office.