The People’s Parlour, now renamed ‘Human Books’, is based on the concept of a ‘Human Library’ but with a special WOMAD twist! We have a selection of beautiful yurts & open tent in the shady Arboretum at Charlton Park. We usually have around 12 people to ‘borrow’ at each session, with around 48 different ‘titles’ over the 3 days. You check out their own book description in the catalogue. This gives a flavour for type of discrimination each person has encountered in their lives. You book them for a half-hour slot with the help of our Librarians, come back at your allotted time & take them out for a quick ‘read’.
It’s an incredibly powerful way to communicate with someone you may not normally encounter in your life. See the ‘people’ tabs for typical books. These were our 2014 books.
Six weeks before WOMAD 2010 was about to start I was asked to run the Human Library in the Arboretum as the previous organiser had to drop out. I needed to find 45 people who had experienced some form of discrimination or stereotyping & ask them to volunteer to be Living Books…..
… and so my quest began. The Human Library website was a great resource, but where to find people? Fast networking was the only way, I had no previous knowledge so just spread the word via email to friends & acquaintances, tweets, facebook events & then emails to organisations, and nervously waited. There was a trickle of interest after a couple of weeks and a fair bit of debate about what & why… then the momentum kicked in, the WOMAD website put out the message, I got retweeted & friends blogged & sent out emails & it all came together in a flurry of yesses!
The organisational systems meanwhile were coming together (ie. being made up!) & I nervously approached the date & gathered together my camping gear & my books descriptions. On the Thursday before the festival we decorated Matt’s beautiful yurts with Mandie’s fabrics, subtly enhancing the natural fabrics with swathes of sheer. The books & helpers started to introduce themselves & we were ready!
We started the first day with a photoshoot by the Sunday Times and the readers started to trickle by & test our systems. The video page gives you a good indication of the amazing attention we received from fascinated festival goers & the lovely feel that the yurts gave to the occasion. Gradually over the first two days I realised – it was a HUGE success!!!
Many many thanks to all the helpers & books, you were quite awesome with your generosity & your talking & understanding.