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Library Human Library
Logo for the Human Library event

6th Annual Human Library

Wednesday November 10, 2021

10am-12pm and 2-5pm

What is the Human Library?

The Human Library® is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. ‘Human Books’ are Fairfield University students, faculty, staff who have volunteered to share their story to break down barriers based on race, religion, sexual orientation, class, gender identity, lifestyle choices, disability or other aspects of their life. The Human Library provides the opportunity for the Fairfield University community to share and understand the experiences of others. 

What do I gain by being a "Human Book"?

While everyone’s experiences are different, past book volunteers have expressed a sense of camaraderie, validation, and pride that comes from meeting fellow books and sharing their stories with members of the Fairfield community. Sharing your story may help someone else who is struggling with a similar challenge. Check out more reasons here. Please note that this is a volunteer role, there is no financial compensation.

What happens at the event? And what am I expected to do as a book?

Books are expected to share a personal story that challenges stereotypes or prejudices through a conversation with an individual reader. Readers will view a list of book titles and descriptions and register for a 30 minute timeslot to speak with one book over Zoom. The link will be emailed a few days before the event. When readers and books click on the link, they will be greeted by a library staff member and given a brief overview and guidelines. Then the library staff member will place the book and reader into a breakout room. A timer will be set for 20 minutes and will be with just one individual (student, faculty, or staff member). Conversations between books and readers usually flow naturally. We provide readers with “starter questions” in case they need some help figuring out what to say. Just be yourself - that will help to relax you and to relax the person you’re talking with. After the conversation, books and readers will go back to the main Zoom room for closing remarks and readers will be given a link to fill out a reflection survey. You will take a reflection survey as well. Training will be provided regarding how to start or end your conversation/story.

How much of a time commitment is it?

Books must be available for at least one two hour session and ideally should login 10 minutes ahead of the two hour session. Readers will sign up for a half hour time slot ahead of time to speak to a specific book they chose so it is important that all books be available for the entire session they signed up for. You can also sign up for both two hour sessions on the sign up form if you wish.

Can someone help me think through my story and come up with a title? Or practice telling my story?

Yes, the Human Library committee members (Fairfield staff and faculty) will meet with each book individually over Zoom, to talk through your story or answer any questions.

Can I see sample book titles and descriptions?

Check out the links on the Books page to get a sense of what stories were shared at past Human Library events. Some books did not want to be on the website, so they are not included on the list.

Do I need to have my name, photo, and story on the website?

No names or photos will be listed on the website or given to readers when they register. Each book title and description will be listed on our website and promotional materials. If you are open to being on our social media for promotion or our recap of the event, you can indicate that on the sign up form and we will get in touch with you.

Can I change my title or description later?

Yes, as long as you get in touch with us at least two weeks before the event we can tweak your title and description.

Will there be photography or filming at the event?

There will be no photography or video taken during the event and readers will be strongly discouraged from doing so.

How does staff keep the environment safe for volunteers like me?

Maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for you to share your story is our top priority. When readers register for the event, they are provided with a statement to read about the event guidelines (as well as possible questions they can ask). We also would not use your full name in any public documentation or give it out to anyone. A library staff member will be in each Zoom meeting to inform readers of the guidelines of the event. When books and readers go into their breakout rooms, books will be able to communicate with the library staff member over chat. Books will be provided with a training document that includes language about how to navigate and end conversations if you need them to end earlier than the 20 minute time frame.

Who attends the event?

Only Fairfield University students, faculty, and staff can attend the event as readers or sign up to be books.

Can my friends or family attend the event?

Anyone who has a Net ID and password can register for an individual conversation. Readers are discouraged from bringing anyone into the Zoom conversation. The event is meant to be between one book and one reader.

How do I attend?

The event will take place on Zoom. Links will be sent to books and readers a few days in advance of the event. We encourage you to find a quiet and private place, if possible, free from distractions. If you have a shared living space or public space that you plan to use for the duration of your conversation, we recommend that you use headphones during the conversation so that if there are individuals in the background they will not be hearing the reader's remarks since it could contain senstive or private information.

What do I wear?

Wear any clothes that you feel comfortable in that you would normally wear to class or a campus event.

Is there an opportunity to give feedback or get involved with planning the event?

Yes, every book (and all readers) are asked to take a brief reflection survey immediately after the event. The Human Library planning committee also welcomes students, staff, and faculty to be part of the planning group. Committee members can also just volunteer to help the day of the event (or by being a book).