The Syracuse University Libraries will host its third annual Human Library on Wednesday, April 6, from noon to 4 p.m. in Bird Library. During this time, participants will have the opportunity to talk to “human books”: volunteers from the SU community who represent a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, areas of expertise, and life experiences, in an effort to promote tolerance, encourage diversity, and challenge stereotypes and prejudices. The purpose of a human library is to encourage people from different backgrounds to talk with and learn from each other in a safe environment.
Human books will lead one-on-one or small group conversations for 20 minutes at a time to share stories about their experiences or backgrounds. Anyone on campus can attend the event anytime between noon and 4 p.m. to “check out” and have a conversation with one or more human books. No preregistration is required, although there will be an opportunity to reserve human books for a specific time if desired.
Event organizers are currently accepting applications for human books until March 1. Faculty, staff, and students can apply at http://tinyurl.com/bookvolunteer.
The 2014 and 2015 human library events each featured 15 human books from different cultures and backgrounds who were “checked out” by about 35 people from the SU campus and neighboring community. Topics have included: Native American, Indian, and Egyptian cultures; poetry; mental health; and living and traveling internationally. Feedback from human books and readers alike has been uniformly positive; human books and readers have described conversations as rewarding, informative, and fun.
SU’s event is part of a regional Human Library program supported by the Central NY Library Resources Council. Event partners currently include the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA) from the School of Information Studies, the Office of Learning Communities, the Disability Cultural Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Slutzker Center for International Services, and the LGBT Resource Center.
The first Human Library program was held in 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Since then, similar events have been organized in libraries, schools and other institutions around the world. For more information see http://researchguides.library.syr.edu/humanlibrary.