SAN DIEGO - Instead of picking up a book at the San Diego Central Library Saturday, you'll be able to "check out" a living, breathing human being and learn their story directly.
A "Human Library" event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Library patrons will be able to "borrow" someone for a 15-minute conversation.
"Libraries are a place for learning, whether it's from words on a page or through a person sharing their experience," said Library Director Misty Jones. "We strive to foster a safe and engaging environment for open dialogue. This project fits perfectly with our mission of inspiring lifelong learning through connections to knowledge and each other."
Available "titles" at Saturday's event include a suicide-attempt survivor, a transgender person, a triple amputee, a Muslim, an online journalist, a domestic violence victim, an anarchist and a person who is blind. All are volunteering their time and willing to share their story.
The Human Library concept originated in 2000 in Denmark as part of an anti-violence program and has since become an international movement. Local organizers said they hope the city's program will foster mutual respect and understanding among residents and visitors of San Diego.
"Diversity and inclusion are part of the fabric of San Diego's identity, and this project is a reminder of that," said Joel Day, executive director of the city's Human Relations Commission.
"Everybody has a story to tell, and just like a book, we shouldn't judge somebody by their cover -- we must get to know them, empathize and understand their point of view," Day said. "This is the key to a city that is socially cohesive and resilient to hate."
The event will take place on the ninth floor. A library card is not required.