Human Library

Emilie Algenio, copyright/fair use librarian at Sterling C. Evans Library at Texas A&M University, talks with graduate student Sandro Muladze during the Human Library event. Algenio was one of the volunteer “books” who shared their stories with library visitors.

People interested in sharing their life experiences can sign up throughout the month for the fourth annual Human Library event at Texas A&M University’s Evans Library. 

The Human Library, scheduled for March 4 from 1 to 5 p.m., allows volunteers to be “books” who tell their stories to “readers” for about 30 minutes. There are no limits to how many people can sign up to be a book, or limits on how many books a person can read. Each book volunteer must attend an orientation in which organizers can tell them about the event and instruct them on how to write a title and description that readers will see before they choose which book to check out.

Usually about 40 people sign up to be books, but Patrick Zinn, director of marketing for the A&M library system, said organizers are always looking for more. Zinn said the Human Library is meant for anyone who has been subjected to a bias based on gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, physical abilities or anything that has led to people making incorrect assumptions about who they are.

“This is a chance for them to come forth and tell the story they would like to tell,” Zinn said. “What’s really great about it is that people who read the books can ask questions that they may not be able to ask in a normal conversation. It’s a real chance to provide understanding and dispel some of the biases and myths that people have based on what they hear about people’s identities.”

Past human book stories, according to the A&M library website, include experiences from a transgender person, a Muslim American, a person who was sexually assaulted in high school, a cancer survivor and more.

This is the fourth time for A&M to participate, but the Human Library is global, started in 2000 in Denmark and has been done in more than 70 countries. 

Zinn said the event is a rare chance to delve deeply into varying insights.

“For the books, a lot of times this is the first time they have ever discussed a particular identity of theirs out loud, so it gives them a chance to build their bravery and take steps to becoming who they truly are,” Zinn said. “And readers get a chance to meet interesting people and really hear their stories from their perspective and have a different understanding of what it would be like to be in that person’s shoes.

An orientation is set for Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Anyone who cannot make it to an orientation can schedule a one-on-one session with an organizer before the end of the month. To view tips for readers, review a list of books from past events, sign up to be a book or to learn more about the event visit library.tamu.edu/human-library

To ask questions about the event, contact Diversity Program Coordinator Marisol Moreno at  marisol.moreno@library.tamu.edu or 862-1552.

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