She volunteers to become a human book in the library's innovative Human Library program.
"A human book is a book you talk to," Shaiq explains. "You learn from the book, by making that personal interaction. They can ask me any questions, nothing is off the table."
Library Services Supervisor Jenny Barnes says the program was launched in Scandinavia. When Redwood City decided to duplicate it, they looked for personalities with unique backgrounds or points of view. "Yeah, we know people who we know are good at being open and who share," says Barnes.
Library goers can check out their human book for a 20 minute session.
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Barnes and Shaiq gave us a taste of how the dialogue develops in a mock session.
"What is it like being Muslim in America," Barnes asks.
Shaiq answers with her trademark honesty. "For the most part it's very good, and I thank God I'm living in this state, in this city"
The human book conversations often taken surprising turns. And like the printed version, they say you can't always judge a human by its cover. The library has hosted two sessions already with another scheduled. Like the regular library it's all free with one important difference.
"You're not allowed to take the human book home, you're not allowed to borrow it," says Shaiq laughingly, you have to read it at the library!"
In honor of Women's History Month in March, the Redwood City Public Library will host a Human Library event at the Redwood Shores Branch Library.
The human books include:
- Former Mayor
- Homeless Advocate and Former Addict
- Human Trafficking Advocate
- Immigrant (habla español)
- Police Chief
- Transgender Person
The event will take place on Saturday, Mar. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Redwood Shores Branch Library, located at 399 Marine Parkway in Redwood City. You can learn more and reserve a spot by clicking here. Drop ins are also welcome.