Ever signed out a person from the library? That's what attendees did at Mount Royal University's inaugural "living library" event on Wednesday. 

Each "human book" shared his or her personal experiences in a face-to-face conversation for about 15 minutes before they were put back into the "library" for someone else.  

Eleven people participated as a human book, sharing stories ranging from one speaker's survival of the Rwandan genocide to a man's experiences being the gay son of a pastor. 

It's all part of Mount Royal's attempts to create community within the university, said Monique Verhoef, Mount Royal's diversity and human rights coordinator.

"The concept is for people to be able to have a face-to-face encounter, a human-connecting experience with another person around their story," she explained. 

Monique Verhoef

Mount Royal University's Monique Verhoef hosted a "living library" event on January 27, 2016. Attendees could loan a "human book" and listen to that person's personal story. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

"I think it does build not only the Mount Royal community, but it builds a stronger city, it builds a stronger Canada when we can understand each other, when we can make connections," Verhoef added.

Kevin Padillo said he's not used to sharing his own story publicly, but decided the living library could give him the platform to speak out about his past involvement in gang life. 

"I was in prison for a while, and now I'm out here and changing my life," he said. "I know that my own experience could change another person."

Living library 2

Mount Royal University hosted a "living library" event on January 27, 2016. Attendees could loan a "human book" and listen to that person's personal story. Kevin Padillo, left, shared his story of having been involved in gang life. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Heather Ince loaned a human story of a transgender woman's journey into womanhood. She said the experience was much more powerful than it would have been to read the same story in a book. 

"The words are powerful, but to hear them spoken from the person themselves, there's no substitute for that," she said.