What do you think of when you hear the word library? Maybe you think of a building full of books - a place to explore other worlds and perspectives. But in the 21st century libraries have become much more than that. They mirror society and reflect the developments occurring in the surrounding world. In some libraries, you can now even borrow a so-called human book – a real human being sitting in front of you sharing their personal story. Sounds exciting, right?
In this episode, we explore the unifying power of libraries and discover why some people consider them to be the beating heart of modern communities.
This episode comes from an online Nordic Talks event organized by the Toronto International Festival of Authors in partnership with the Harbourfront Centre. The talk is part of Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre "Nordic Bridges 2022" cultural exchange initiative.
"Libraries are the beating heart and soul of a city and a community."
Anne-Rachel Schiffmann, director at Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta
This podcast episode features the following speakers
Anne-Rachel Schiffmann (Switzerland)
Anne-Rachel Schiffmann is a director and senior architect at the New York office of the Norwegian architecture and design firm Snøhetta. She has 25 years of design experience and has worked on a range of award-winning projects, including the Calgary Central Library, the Ryerson University Student Learning Center, and the SFMOMA Expansion. Currently, she leads design efforts for the Summit One Vanderbilt Observation Deck in New York City and the Burnside Tokyo restaurant and art space.
Sarah Ham (Canada)
Sarah Ham is a student at Carleton University, majoring in English and History and minoring in Greek and Roman Studies. Sarah is also a former member of Ottawa Public Library's Teen Advisory Group (TAG), where they spent four years helping organize library events, from book nights to art competitions. They are now a member of the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Youth Advisory Council (YAC), which guides libraries on how young people view, access, and relate to Canada's documentary heritage.
Ann Dixon (US)
Ann Dixon is the author of eight picture books for children and one nonfiction title for young adults, as well as poems, essays, and nonfiction for adults. She lives in Homer, Alaska, where she writes, hikes, gardens, and volunteers to drive the Friends of Homer Library's bookmobile (BOB: Books on Board). Her children's books have received numerous awards, including the National Outdoor Book Award, Ben Franklin Award, and Patricia Gallagher Award. She has a particular interest in northern children's literature, particularly Swedish children's literature.
Ronni Abergel (Denmark)
Ronni Abergel is the founder of Denmark's Human Library Organization (Menneskebiblioteket), where instead of books, real people with real stories are on loan to readers. The concept is currently being introduced in South Africa, Tunisia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Mongolia and Israel. Ronni also co-founded Denmark's Stop the Violence Movement, an NGO that achieved national recognition for its work with young people. He is currently focusing on establishing ten new Human Library Book Depots across Denmark.