Making scientists into living ‘books’ promotes science literacy

The Living Library event, held during Science Literacy Week can be thought of as an event where “people are books,” explained Katherine Miller, UBC Reference Librarian.

During the week long events to celebrate Canadian science and scientists, UBC hosted a Living Library event, based on the “human library events that are held globally,” explained Sarah Parker, another reference librarian and the brain behind the Living Library event.

While learning about interesting graduate student research at UBC, Parker saw an opportunity to share what she was seeing with more people. Thus, the Living Library became a part of the UBC Science Expo during Science Literacy Week.

Bridging the gap between research and students, the Living Library allowed anyone to meet a real, live grad student and talk to them, Miller explained.

“You can ‘check out’ a researcher for 15 minutes and have a conversation,” Miller said.

“We found that undergrads last year really liked the ability to have the permission to sit down with a grad student … it’s so inspiring to be able to hear when somebody’s passion about their research and to be able to convey that one-on-one.”

The graduate students who were part of the Living Library were recruited by liaison librarians who thought that some students would be a personable, informative “book.” The role was completely voluntary and the librarians tried to recruit “books” that were representative of the broad interests of Woodward library patrons.

Due to time and availability, not every field of study was represented. Still, this year there were six “books” available at the Living Library.

One of them was Dr. May Sanaee, a junior clinician scientist at UBC through the Centre for Pelvic Floor Competence at St. Paul’s Hospital. Sanaee said she “moved out to UBC to work with this research group … centering around women’s health and pelvic floor health.”

Upon finishing her residency in obstetrics and…

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