Human Library: Calgarians can check out human 'books'

Human books will be on hand at Calgary libraries this Saturday for people to check out.

Calgary Public Library's Umashanie Reddy explains Human Library

9 years ago
Calgary Public Library's Umashanie Reddy explains Human LIbrary 5:01

"Human books" will be on hand at Calgary libraries this Saturday for people to check out.

The books are part of the "Human Library," a joint program run by CBC and the Calgary Public Library.

Former Olympian Seyi Smith is one of the participants.

Smith was part of the Canadian men's relay team at the London Olympics. The sprinters thought they had won a bronze medal.

"I looked at the big screen and it says Jamaica, U.S., and then a bit of a pause and then Canada — trying to put it into words and the emotions I felt at that moment it’s not possible. Like I collapsed on the ground, more goose bumps, the ground is sort of shaking and hands on the head saying ‘oh my god, oh my god we’ve done it.’"

Shortly after that moment, the team was disqualified when it was ruled that one of the members stepped out of their lane.

Smith is now training in Calgary.

Judy Jarvis, who will be available Saturday, has participated in a similar program The Calgary Public Library has run in the past.

Jarvis, who is from Trinidad and Tobago, talks about cultural awareness.

"A lot of times they want to know, ‘how did you fit into the culture because it’s so different.’ A lot of people want to know about the racial issue, if you find racism, a lot of people ask about that, a lot of them want to know if you’re happy in your new environment or if you yearn to go back to your country," says Jarvis.

"Also, they talk about the food, people ask me about food. If we eat things like lizards, you know. Strange questions like that."

The program will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. MT at the Central, Saddletowne and Shawnessy branches. The "books" will be available in 15-minute windows.

More information can be found here.

The initiative will take place in local libraries and cultural centres in 15 cities across the country, as well as online.

Rapper Shad, mental health advocate Margaret Trudeau, soprano Measha Brueggergosman, author Robert Munsch, journalist Susan Ormiston, actor Grace Park and wrongfully convicted mom Tammy Marquardt will be available to answer your questions via text or webcam. Sign up for the events here.

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