News and Events

Human Library Collection set to launch locally

January 28, 2013
Hatters will have one more resource to turn to at the Medicine Hat Public Library and the Medicine Hat College library this week, with the launch of the Human Library Collection. Based on the international Human Library movement, the two local libraries are collecting local volunteers ready to serve as knowledge resources in our community. Library patrons will be able to reserve one of the humans and check them out for a meeting at a library. Library staff will make the meeting arrangements and the library patron can borrow the expert to discuss their field, hobby or lifestyle.

“People are one of a community’s best knowledge resources, and we are thrilled to be able to partner with the public library to help provide this access to our patrons,” said Keith Walker, MHC’s director of library services. “If a patron is looking for advice on raising twins or wondering what a day in the life of a firefighter is like, they’ll be able to access that information from first-hand sources by checking out a human book.”

Library staff have recruited human books from all walks of life, including: a critical care nurse to talk about end of life decision making, a survivor of rape, a search and rescue volunteer, someone who works to integrate people coming out of jail back into society, a reflexologist, a funeral director, a parent of twins, an alderman, a Camino de Santiago pilgrim, a person with body art, a person who uses animals in research, a knitter, and more.

Unlike the Canada-wide National Human Library Day, the Medicine Hat Human Library is an ongoing collection. Each of the human books will have a book jacket and reference number in the library. When he or she is reserved by a patron, library staff will make the connection and the patron and human book will meet at one of the two libraries. All human books have completed background checks, and meetings can only take place in the library. Human books will only be identified in the catalogue by experience, not by name.

The community is invited to help kick off this exciting initiative on Thursday, January 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Medicine Hat Public Library. Everyone is encouraged to come enjoy refreshments and get a sneak peak at some of the human books in this collection.

 “The international Human Library movement is about challenging your beliefs and ideas by having real conversations with real people,” said Shelley Ross, MHPL’s chief librarian. “In our local iteration it’s also about getting directly to the heart of your question by putting you in touch with someone who has done what you need or want to do.”

After Thursday’s launch, the Human Library Collection will be available in both library catalogues at and