Saturday, 26 January 2013 is Canada’s National Human Library Day. The Human Library is an initiative “designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding,” (Human Library, 2012). I just heard about the national initiative on the radio, and it sparked my curiosity, so I looked it up.
For those who won’t click through to the links, the idea is that several people of varied backgrounds, histories and occupations make themselves available for a few hours in a public space to have 20-minute conversations with anyone who signs up to attend. On Saturday, fourteen local Montreal people will be at the Atwater Library (1200, Avenue Atwater, Westmount) from 11:00 until 16:00. These folks are a mix of journalists, religious leaders, sports figures and gay rights activists.
I have signed up for a conversation at 11:00am with Lela Savic, a journalist of Romani origins. She is from the former Yugoslavia and makes documentary films here in Montreal (you can follow her on Twitter here).
When perusing the list of participants, I was particularly interested in meeting and speaking with Ms Savic. Coming from Geneva, Switzerland, where there are, shall we say, “issues” with the Romani population, I am curious to hear her perspective and to try to understand a bit more about this group which seems to inspire so many different reactions: fear, mistrust, fascination (think of flamenco music!), romanticism, etc.
If you like the sound of this initiative, see if the Human Library is doing anything in your area. You can also tune in to cbcnews.ca on Saturday between 11:00 and 16:00 Eastern Standard Time to participate in the live event online. You can also follow CBC on Twitter and get updates about the event at the hashtag #CBCHumanLibrary.
It promises to be an interesting (though brief) conversation! If any of you have questions you would want me to ask Ms Savic, feel free to post them in the comments.