Published: 10th September 2020
How Chennai took the Human Library virtual and made sure everyone had a great read!
The event was held on September 6, in collaboration with Human Library Mysuru and the British Council. It had 17 books and around 150 readers
Sailakshmi K V has been organising Human Library events in Chennai almost every month since June 2017. Every month, along with her team, the Founder and Book Depot Manager of Human Library Chennai selects human books who have an inspiring life story and let them be 'read' by a group of readers. For those whom the concept is alien, at a Human Library event, you can issue a human ‘book’ and talk to them. Usually, a human book talks to a small group of people for a given amount of time.
But then in March, the pandemic hit. Event spaces were closed, social distancing norms were in place and people were no longer supposed to form groups, to avoid the spread of the virus. So, a few days ago, on September 6, Human Library Chennai conducted its first session online, with 17 books and around 150 readers. The event was held in collaboration with Human Libary Mysuru and the British Council.
"The entire event was planned in a week," says Sailakshmi. "This was a hassle getting books ready in that span. But the response was overwhelming. We had around 300 registrations and around 150 people turned up," she says. The event was conducted via Google Meet, where every reader was allowed access to the room where the book that they picked is present. The access to the rooms was moderated by the volunteers. This was different from the usual Human Library format, where every reader is free to pick any number of books. Instead, here, a reader got to read only one book.
Sailakshmi agrees that organising the event was a hassle and recounts how volunteers had to pull all-nighters, sending emails and making sure that everything was in place. But when asked if she would organise another online human library event, she didn't hesitate as she said an enthusiastic 'yes'. "I have been receiving a lot of positive response from people after the event. They told me how they missed the previous sessions," she says. Now in a locked-down world, they won't miss these events anymore, thanks to technology.