A library always reminds one of books, the sound of the shuffle of the index cards in the catalogue section, the fragrance of those old pages of some very old books, and last but not the least the silence. Well, be prepared for a change in the concept of a library. India saw the advent of its first “Human Library in Delhi” which was inaugurated on Sunday, 18 June, 2017. This concept is the brain-child of Ronnie Abergel, who started human library in Copenhagen, which then gained momentum across the globe, and has found its place in nearly 80 countries. India too has seen a Human Library in Indore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and now in Delhi.
The concept of Human Library was born out of the fact that human beings themselves are the biggest source of knowledge. Humans are by nature inquisitive and knowledge is a basic necessity for an average being. In fact human beings are the epitome of cultural awareness today because of this thirst for knowledge.
- In a Human Library, as the name suggests, human beings replace the books in the library.
- People from varied background, especially the marginalised communities against whom there are certain prejudices and bias, or stereotypes or those having interesting/unusual careers normally do have interesting stories to narrate.
- Even people from the normal and mundane walk of life sometimes have some very interesting experiences to share.
- A Human Library gives the aforesaid people a platform to share their experiences with the people who are interested.
- The most amusing part about this concept is that a visitor can check out the catalogue and borrow one of these human books for a limited period of 20-30 minutes.
- The only requirement for the human books is that they should be able to leave a positive impact on the reader aka listener.
- This concept is useful for the introverts in search of answers and knowledge on certain stereotypes or careers because a one on one conversation can appeal to them.
- Though a relatively new concept in India, there are innumerable human libraries in Australia, Europe and the US
This Sunday afternoon saw a long line of people waiting for their turn outside a building next to Regal Cinema, Connaught Place. The subject of discussion among the people waiting was of course which human book they wanted to borrow. Yes, Human Library has caught the fancy of the people of Delhi.
The Delhi Chapter at Innov8 featured 11 human books who were narrating stories from their personal lives. Some of the interesting topics covered this time were as follows:
- Battling drug addiction (Another High).
- Surviving cancer (Cancer Survivor).
- Fighting domestic abuse (Break Free).
- Becoming a tea-seller turned author (Tea Leaves and Books).
- Female solo traveller (The Rover).
Each reading lasted 20 minutes and accommodated a maximum of five people. While it was expected to arouse the curiosity of the Delhiites, the crowd that turned up to experience the concept of Human Library was much more and the organisers were indeed thown off by the numbers. Nishkarsh Kaushik, one of the organisers, said, “We hope to hold this every weekend eventually. We were a little taken aback by the numbers but were able to accommodate around 950 people. We had to ask the ‘books’ to continue for an extra hour.”