Hear someone’s story in a human library

The library is a source of information. The traditional library would collect all of that information on books, but what about the information stored inside the many people within our community? The human library, a collaboration between the Yorkton Film Festival and the Yorkton Public Library, aimed the collect many different prominent community members and get them together to talk about their experiences and areas of interest.

The concept began with the Yorkton Film Festival’s Open Cinema program explains Randy Goulden with the Yorkton Film Festival. They screened the film Human Library Stories, but also decided, with chief librarian Meagan Richards, to bring the idea to Yorkton.

“We’re always seeing what we could do as a first in Saskatchewan, and this is one of the first human libraries in Saskatchewan. It originated in Ottawa, and that’s where the film was done. It just shows what inspirations you can get from films, when you watch and think ‘we could do this here in Yorkton.’”

There were thirteen human books at the event, representing a wide range of experiences and topics. Goulden notes that someone could speak to someone about a hobby, about their life experience, about technology, about a wide range of different topics and ideas. Examples included Rick Gibson talking about his experience with West Nile, or Martin and Margaret Phillips talking about photography.

“If you think you’re an interesting character, we would love to have you involved.”

It’s also an opportunity to highlight the value of the Yorkton Public Library itself, Goulden says. It’s a chance to get people to visit the library, and get inspired by what is going on around them. The YPL and YFF have a long-running partnership, and Goulden believes that being inspired by what is happening in a place like the library is a starting point for many films, including those shown at the Yorkton Film Festival.

One of the human books was Morley Maier, weaving baskets and talking to people about basket weaving. For him, it’s as much about supporting a program that gets people into the local library as it is about actually talking about himself and his hobby.

“Any time we can do things in libraries and other places that engage the public and let them see what is happening in their community is always a good thing.”

Maier does enjoy the chance to talk about and demonstrate why he loves basket weaving, and will always take the opportunity to talk about it.

“I can weave baskets and enjoy that by myself at home, and I do. But there comes a time when you want to and feel some sort of a need to take the show on the road and see what other people think about what you’re doing.”

That is part of the reason why Maier believes that a human library is able to bring people together to talk about their interests, he believes it’s a universal desire for people to talk about what they do, no matter what someone might be doing.

“Most people do interesting things, and most people don’t mind sharing stories about what they are interested in and what they do.”

Basket weaving is a tradition that came to Maier through going to school near the Little Bone reserve, where his mother was a teacher. He has baskets weaved by Nancy Kinistino and Deliah Peepeetch, and grew up with the latter woman’s children.

“The whole cultural and historical connection is important to me, even though this is probably not a First Nations craft, it probably came over through Europeans. For me, since I know the makers, and I know so much to do with the people who do this, and because I like the outdoors... For me it’s not about the baskets, there’s lots of history and lots culture.”

Maier hopes that there will be more human libraries in the future, and hopes to see different people involved and different subjects covered into the future.

“I think people live some very interesting, very fascinating lives, and we don’t know about them.”

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