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Living libraries

Sharing knowledge through word-of-mouth

The written word has preserved humanity’s stories in libraries for generations. But, before that, we had the oral word stored in a human library.

The Reg Erhardt Library and multiple departments across SAIT came together to create SAIT’s own version of the international Human Library through SAIT’s Living Library. The event took place on Feb. 14, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Human Library is a movement that aims to challenge the public’s commonly held stereotypes and prejudices about lifestyles and ways of living through dialogue. The main goal of making humans available to ‘check out’ is to promote conversations on issues including homelessness, religion and philosophies.

Morgan Hordal is the student engagement librarian at SAIT who plans and manages events and outreach work at the library. Hordal described the living library as an event for the entire SAIT community. This is the event’s second year and is considered important due to the positive feedback it has generated.

Living Libraries is a collaborative effort that involves multiple SAIT departments. Its overall goal, Hordal says, is to create a more inclusive campus, as SAIT wants everyone to feel welcome.

“[We want] to inspire people to tell their own story,” Hordal said.

Attendance was staggered throughout the event, with individuals and small groups filtering in to listen to the live books. 

This year’s theme focused on people who have undergone unique struggles in their lives, according to Hordal.

While satisfied with the turnout of around 25 students, Hordal would like to see more people in the future.

Journalism student David Morales looks at the event as a way to give back to the community.

Morales has been a part of both living libraries thus far and said it is a good chance to participate in a unique experience.

This year, Morales was sharing the story of his struggle with mental health and how he was removed from his undergraduate program at the age of 21, but went on to not only recover from the crisis but to also succeed at SAIT.

Morales felt good about the event as most of the participants would ask him questions, which signified they were actually listening.

“It always evolves. It depends on the group you have,” Morales said.  

He said the event is a good opportunity for people within the community to engage with and to listen to those who have confronted real adversity in their lives.

For future Living Library events, Hordal is considering more career-based programs.  

Hordal wished to extend an invitation to all SAIT students to take part in next year’s iteration of Living Libraries as both attendees and potential books.

Those interested in sharing their stories can contact Morgan Hardal at morgan.hordal@sait.ca.

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