The Human Library encourages understanding through conversation... between strangers.
When you enter Collins Memorial Library on a regular day, it’s usually filled with students finding reference materials or working quietly, but one evening in early November, this was not the case. Instead, small groups of people sat in various spots throughout the first floor, having lively conversations. And the reference materials being checked out were not books, but people.
Collins was host to a “Human Library” event, bringing “readers” (community members) together with “books” (volunteers willing to share their stories and perspectives) to encourage vulnerability and openness. The event featured a series of 20-minute interactions aimed at breaking down stereotypes. Those serving as books shared their experiences, and readers had the opportunity to ask questions and get to know people they may otherwise never encounter.
Established in Denmark in 2000, the Human Library is an international nonprofit which aims to stop acts of violence by fostering a greater understanding of others through conversation. Each Human Library event is unique and largely depends on the volunteers and the stories they tell. Some of the book titles featured at Puget Sound’s event include A Christian Community Apologizes to the Queer Community, Living Black in Rural Washington, and From Desk to Stripper Pole.