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Canadian Library to Loan Out People 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the line-up-by-isbn dept.
Wouldn't it be easier to learn Chinese from a native speaker than from a book, or explore a religion from an actual practitioner rather than words on a page? A library in Surrey, B.C. thinks so and has introduced a "human library" program. Visitors will be able to "check-out" real people to learn about their experiences and specific knowledge. From the article: "...The goal is to break down stereotypes and start discussions, said deputy chief librarian Melanie Houlden. 'What we're aiming to do is bring the library to life for people. There are huge repositories of experience and knowledge in their own brains,' she said." As long as you stay out of the horror section, this sounds like a great idea.
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Canadian Library to Loan Out People

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  • How can this idea even be sustainable? You're going to find a sufficient number of people willing to give up their time to do these things for complete strangers with no guarantee of compensation?

    It is a library, right? Free to join, no cost to check out? Where are the revenues going to come from?

    • Re:Sustainable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2011 @10:28AM (#37143042)

      How can this idea even be sustainable? You're going to find a sufficient number of people willing to give up their time to do these things for complete strangers with no guarantee of compensation?

      It is a library, right? Free to join, no cost to check out? Where are the revenues going to come from?

      Yeah. Also, open-source software is never going to catch on for the same reasons...

      • by Rehnberg (1618505)
        If only I had the mod points to give you...
      • Re:Sustainable (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Friday August 19, 2011 @10:49AM (#37143314)

        Unlike open source software where one can write the code once, or write a portion of the code once, and have it used many times, you need somebody that's going to be there providing every single moment of the loan period. Granted the periods of time aren't going to be the same as for books, but you'd still need somebody to provide every hour of loan.

        Additionally, with OSS you get an ecosystem that can survive past the point where people contribute to it, if in a stunted form whereas the moment people stop volunteering to be loaned out the project comes to a screeching halt.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Oh of course not. Things like PHP and Apache will never catch on.......right? =P

    • by Rehnberg (1618505)

      How can this idea even be sustainable? You're going to find a sufficient number of people willing to give up their time to do these things for complete strangers with no guarantee of compensation?

      The same way that Wikipedia is sustainable (at least so far). As long as volunteers get to choose how much time they give, I can see the system being fairly sustainable over a significant time period, at least in general.

      It is a library, right? Free to join, no cost to check out? Where are the revenues going to come from?

      Again, money might not be an issue here. Yes, it will cost something (but probably not all that much), but since it's a library (aka non-profit), donations could always be *highly suggested*

      • by arth1 (260657)

        The same way that Wikipedia is sustainable (at least so far). As long as volunteers get to choose how much time they give, I can see the system being fairly sustainable over a significant time period, at least in general.

        Unlike Wikipedia and books, a person can't be duplicated and perused by thousands at the same time. This is more like a museum lending out unique pieces, hoping that the public will treat them well.

        This is doomed. When starting a project, always take human nature into account, and remember that human nature is always worse than you believe.

    • It's a volunteer program (and a PR stunt.) TFA: "People with various personal experiences have already agreed to volunteer, she said."

    • Volunteers do this sort of thing without compensation all the time. Language lessons, tax form assistance, house work, odd jobs, you name it. The interesting bit about this story is that it's the library doing the coordination, rather than individual, smaller (possibly less well-known) organizations (churches, community programs, what have you).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are plenty of people who love to talk about their experiences and would be happy to get only human company in return. Elderly people spring to mind first, but surely there are many more.

      Also, it seems not at all unlikely that there might be a dialogue rather than a one-way flow of information. The experience might be intellectually rewarding for both sides.

    • Re:Sustainable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CyborgWarrior (633205) on Friday August 19, 2011 @12:12PM (#37144580) Homepage

      Are you kidding me? I love the idea of this program!! I have done some fairly interesting things in my life and if there was some sort of library nearby me where I could register to talk about it with anyone interested, I would put at least a few hours a week into it. You get to meet people who are interested in something you know about and want you to talk about it, it just sounds like a social blast to me.

      Maybe this is missing its point on slashdot because of the whole "social" part of it.....?

  • One question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Baloroth (2370816)
    Only one question: can I "check out" hot girls?
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Only one question: can I "check out" hot girls?

      No, but you can still do it the way you've always done it: through their bedroom windows with a pair of binoculars.

    • by mmmmbeer (107215)

      No, but you can learn about STDs from a real live hooker. Hands-on experience costs extra.

  • The concept is interesting, but I don't think it would work all that well in execution.
  • can i check her out for overnight?
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday August 19, 2011 @10:28AM (#37143044) Homepage Journal

    "I'd like to read up on Creationism and Chiropractic, please."

    "Certainly, you can borrow Canada's Minister of Science and Technology, Gary Goodyear."

    (I shit you not, this is the case. Sad.)
    • I could see so much room for abuse. Many people would talk about what it's like to be somebody else.

      A: "So, what's it like to be a Liberal?"
      B: "Well, we're emotional, logical, intelligent, caring, financially sound, down to earth, loving...pretty much everything that Conservatives are not."

    • Chiropractics is really two fields pretending to be one. On the one side, you have well educated people who are frequently also medical doctors using a range of physical therapy methods to improve back and spinal health. Still concerning in that they tend to see a large number of issues stemming from the spine but they at least try to be analytical and evidence based. On the other side you have people that believe that literally every human ailment is caused by spinal disorders, from a sore back to cance

  • by bareman (60518) on Friday August 19, 2011 @10:31AM (#37143090) Homepage Journal

    When I fail to return them?

  • Book checks out you!

  • This kind of idea has been around for ages, for example: the University of Guelph's Living Library [uoguelph.ca].
  • What about cooking lessons?
  • by k_187 (61692) on Friday August 19, 2011 @10:41AM (#37143214) Journal
    Yeah, its like they could get people to write down their life lessons and experiences, and then bind those pages together and loan out the bound pages. We could call them bopages or something catchy and hook the kids.
  • I teach at a university. Students who pay user fees, called tuition, check me out for a whole semester. Not only can I share my "repositories of experience and knowledge" by teaching, but I also have additional features like writing letters of recommendation. As an added bonus, students who check me out the entire semester, rather than putting me in the "drop" box, and follow my directions carefully, can earn credit toward a degree.
  • That's waisis.
  • Lend, dammit!

  • Amy Pond is in the library. Amy Pond has been saved.

    I'm checking her out.

  • I'd like a Blond, 25 and 38/24/36 please. I'll have her back next week. Thanks-
  • I can see it now.. PERVERT: Excuse me miss, can you please point me to the kamasutra section... LIBRARIAN: Down 12 isle to the left. That section is a bit busy today, the end of the line is at isle 4. PERVERT: Ok, how about lusty romance? LIBRARIAN:: Isle 6, end of the line is at isle 5. PERVERT: Thanks! Oh and can you recommend any good books to read while I wait?
  • by muszek (882567) on Friday August 19, 2011 @11:08AM (#37143600) Homepage

    I've read about it being done in a few cities in Poland. It's more of an art happening then a practical thing. The "exposition" is made of members of different kind of minorities (one Jew, one atheist, one gay person, etc.) who you can "borrow" and talk to. Neat idea and of course it's been protested by homophobic morons.

    The project is called ywa Biblioteka (alive library) - http://www.zywabiblioteka.pl/ [zywabiblioteka.pl] .

    • Yep, it's been done all over and is a pretty cool idea.

      I participated in a 'Human Library' here in Victoria, BC at UVic, as 'A Victoria Vegan'. I was 'signed-out' for 30min sessions, and chatted with people about veganism, dispelling myths, etc.. It was pretty fun, and it was a good way for people to find out more about other subjects. Other 'books' were a visiting/exchange Czech, someone who is narcoleptic, people with mixed-heritage (usually ones that would conflict!) parents, someone who practice polyam

  • .... Jessica Lucas. Never mind the late fees.

  • by wisnoskij (1206448)

    "or explore a religion from an actual practitioner"

    Absolutely not.

    In the case of religion every practitioner has radically different views of what there religion is and they almost all have warped views of the history of there religion.
    Almost all book on a religion will give you far more facts about it then any of its practitioners.

    • by Mayhem178 (920970)
      In the case of [topic] every practitioner has radically different views of what there [topic] is and they almost all have warped views of the history of there [topic]. Almost all book on a [topic] will give you far more facts about it then any of its practitioners.

      Now that I've quelled your anti-religious rant...

      As it turns out, if you RTFA, the purpose of the program is to discuss individual experiences and get perspectives. Nothing in the article says anything about obtaining facts. If you want fa
      • Sure, but it makes perfect sense to get a actual person to teach them their language.
        Sure everyone speaks a little different but it is normally close enough to understand.
        And it makes sense to learn physics from a physicists, but a practitioner of a religion is unique in that going to one of them for knowledge of the religion is a very bad idea.

        So no your "[topic]" is ridiculous and really only applies to religions, cults, and maybe a few other things that depend on some sort of brainwashing or evoke a huge

  • That reminds me a book I read

    Deschooling Society [wikipedia.org] by Ivan Illich.
  • ...the stupidest idea ever published on Slashdot.

  • Isn't this already called "tutoring"?

  • To my business model which is to say that if someone was new to my city and was a lone and needed a guide then I would have one of my friends be their friend for a certain length of time and show them the sights and just be a real good friend in general. Of course since this is a business I would need to charge them a certain base amount based on various factors. My business model is serving me quite well actually.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...And not one reference to Head Museums from Futurama?

    Slashdot, I am disappoint.

  • I can just imagine some horny teenage male going to the library to check out a sex worker in order to "for an extra credit assignment in sex ed class"
  • Sexual Education!

  • Wheres the porn section...
  • The library's book collection is selected with care. Who will curate the collection of people? Nobody. Hence, it will be filled with self serving people looking for business leads from investment advisers to divorce lawyers and people who have little expertise but are convinced they know a lot about something. Can you imagine the uproar the first time a librarian tells someone that they are not qualified to discuss some subject?
  • Fahrenheit 451's people who memorized books and related them orally thereafter. And now we have come full circle from ancient times when story tradition was aural. I'm going to build fires and gather people around and recite, from memory, Linux documentation.
  • Hmm, this has been reported several times previously, starting around 11 years ago ..

    http://humanlibrary.org/press-archive.html [humanlibrary.org]

    OK, only 3 years after USA Today (and NY Times) got to it:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-10-17-1940310534_x.htm [usatoday.com]

    Pretty soon slashdot will be the place to go for news for nerds and stuff that matters. Oh, wait.

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