Besides offering traditional books, libraries are keeping up with the times and providing more audiobooks and ebooks.
Now one library on the Cape is trying out a different kind of book: a “human book.”
On Saturday, October 26, the Osterville Village Library will host “The Human Library,” which aims to “unjudge someone” and eliminate prejudices by “checking out” humans with different stories.
Osterville Village Library’s Executive Director Cyndy Cotton first heard about the idea from a patron. The Human Library Organization was created in 2000 in Denmark and has had events in 80 different countries. It registers books with different titles in hopes to challenge stereotypes and to “not judge a book by its cover.”
“The best way to learn from someone is to have a conversation,” Ms. Cotton said. “How many things have we thought of growing up that have been dispelled over the years?”
Ms. Cotton is currently looking for more people to volunteer as “human books.” All of the books will have different titles, such as “Homosexual,” “Domestic Abuse Survivor,” or “Homeless.”
At the event, people can check out the “books” for one-on-one conversations or be in a group discussion for about 20 to 30 minutes before returning the book to its shelf.
Titles that will be able to be checked out at Osterville’s Human Library event so far include “Turmoil and Tyranny in Hong Kong,” “The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About,” “Being a Woman of Color” and “The Adaptable Bob.”
“Maybe it’s time that we get back to having a one-on-one conversation,” Ms. Cotton said. “Maybe we can do our little part in the world to just bring some conversations to where hopefully people will start being nicer to each other.”
Ms. Cotton encourages anyone who has experienced prejudices or mistreatment to volunteer as a book. So many people fight their problems alone, Ms. Cotton said, and they do not have to.
“It’s a nice way for people to understand what it is they’re going through,” Ms. Cotton said. “Everybody has a story, and everybody is quick to judge. Sometimes you need to dig a little deeper.”
Areas of experience of “human books” include, but are not limited to, 13 areas of focus: ethnicity, religion, health, social status, occupation, victim, sexual orientation, lifestyle, mental health, and lifestyle choices, including past drug and alcohol abuse.
Ms. Cotton is hoping to get six to 12 books for the event and is accepting applications until Wednesday, October 23. She is working with WellStrong, a wellness community for those recovering from addiction, to get a recovering addict to participate as a book, as well as the Champ House to get a homeless person.
Adam Burnett, executive director of Champ House, asked people at the house if anybody wanted to participate as a book, and one man volunteered, he said.
“I think it can clear up some common misconceptions regarding the homeless population,” Mr. Burnett said. “Far too often we categorize people based on preconceived notions of what led them to their homelessness.”
Harbor Point, a senior living memory community in Centerville, is choosing one of its residents and a family member to participate as a book, said Julie Dalton, its director of community relations.
The Human Library event could help dispel stereotypes behind the disease, she said. Given the population of Cape Cod, in which more than 10,000 people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, learning more about people with dementia or Alzheimer’s can have a prolific impact, Ms. Dalton said.
“This event could help people understand that people with dementia are the same person they were,” Ms. Dalton said. “You just need to ask the right questions in order to bring out that person. That’s what we hope to do at this event. Give people the opportunity to learn how to communicate and bring out moments of joy.”