The Librarian and staff of the main library together with the Coordinating Centre for Students with Disabilities organized ‘Duologues’, a Human Library event on Wednesday 07th December 2016 at 2.00 p.m. at the Library Lobby of the main university library. The main aim of this ‘disability-awareness’ event was to afford opportunities for the general student population at our university to engage in conversations with 9 key resource persons from the disability rights community.
The ‘Human Library’ is a project aimed at encouraging ‘worldwide global change’ through challenging pre-existing stereotypical ideas and beliefs on groups of people by offering opportunities for people to meet and dialogue with key persons from communities. The use of the Human Library concept has been growing across the world and has been used successfully to encourage conversations between people on sensitive topics and arguably marginalized communities including people from minority ethnic groups, single mothers, persons of diverse sexual orientations, persons with disability, people who are homeless etc.
The basic idea is to invite key people representing different communities to become a ‘human book’ and to agree to be ‘borrowed’ by ‘readers’ who sit with them one-on-one or in a small group to engage in dialogue, encouraging ‘positive frameworks’ for conversations that have the power to challenge existing stereotypes and preconceptions. It is said to be a meeting place ‘where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered’ (http://humanlibrary.org/).
The current project aims to use the Human Library concept to encourage dialogues on disability in Sri Lanka, starting at our university. We hope that the opportunity to interact with key persons from the disability-rights community will help encourage deeper deliberations and reflections and help challenge arguably widely prevalent negative and stereotypical notions of disability.