“‘Our intention is to provide opportunities for dialogue and getting to know people on a different level,’ said Derek Wolfgram, Redwood City library director. ‘It’s really an invitation for people to get to know their fellow community members. … It’s easy to demean someone when you don’t know anyone like them.’
The experiment, The Human Library, was developed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000, as an outgrowth of a youth organization called Stop the Violence. Stop the Violence was founded by a group of Copenhagen teens to raise awareness about a rise in violence against immigrants, particularly teens, after one of their peers was stabbed to death in 1993.
Wolfgram said the library decided to make the Human Library part of its ongoing Community Conversations series to celebrate Redwood City’s diversity and the aspiration of the city to be a welcoming and inclusive place.”
“Ford’s interactive display allows library visitors, many of them homeless, to express themselves anonymously. Panels hanging from the ceiling ask visitors ‘What do you need? What can you give?’ Paper, pens, and a drop box allow visitors to answer. Ford periodically empties the box and pins the responses on the five panels in the display.
She’s been surprised by what people have said. The vast majority didn’t ask for money or housing or food — they asked for empathy.”
“An employee at the main branch of the Worcester Public Library, speaking for herself and not the library, said the main branch serves as the city’s defacto day shelter for homeless people, but employees there often find themselves unequipped to help the homeless patrons. The employee, Elizabeth McKinstry, said the task force should look at staffing social workers at the library to help the homeless people who shelter there.
‘We really need someone onsite to help us do what we want to do as librarians, which is help people,’ said McKinstry.
She also added she was disappointed no one from the library was included on the task force.”
Additionally, Boston Public Library is hiring a reference librarian who will specialize in health and human services and recently launched an addiction recovery resources guide, which includes information on substance use and recovery services designed for active users and their loved ones.”
“We truly strive to provide something for every citizen in the community whether you’re a reader or a user of technology or simply looking for a place to stay during our open hours,” says Sonja Eyler, Director of the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Public Library.
“This is simply the library doing what the library does — providing learning opportunities and resources for the whole community,” said Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries, in a news release. “It just so happens that this is a once in a generation event, right in our backyard, so it’s been a fun and rather unique chance to share in the experience.”
“It’s like if you don’t go into an area that’s poor, you don’t understand or appreciate the area that’s poor,” City Councilman John Garland, a native Roanoker, said during the kickoff meeting at the Jackson Park Library in Southeast Roanoke.
“Libraries attract a fair share of homeless and mentally ill,” said Wendy Hopkins, bureau chief for the California State Library’s Development Services Bureau. “We’re here to serve communities and many people come looking for answers to their problems.”