LibraryHuman Library Event 2016
Human Library

Fairfield University Event

The Human Library was held at DiMenna-Nyselius Library on Wednesday Nov. 9th from 2-5pm and Thursday Nov. 10th from 5-8pm. Over 400 students attended as “Readers” over the 2 day event. We are so grateful to our 43 students, faculty and staff who graciously shared their stories as “Books”. To learn more about the event, watch this short video:

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.

A Human Library is an event that aims to create dialogue and understanding between people. Individuals volunteer as human ‘books’ and participants in the event can ‘read’ the book- meaning they would have a one on one conversation with the volunteer and share in a dialogue about that individual’s experience. ‘Books’ are students, faculty and staff who have volunteered to share their experiences centered around discrimination and/or want to break down barriers based on race, religion, sexual preference, class, gender identity, lifestyle choices, disability and other aspects of their life. The Human Library provides the opportunity for the Fairfield University community to share and understand the experiences of others.

The Human Library is an international movement that started in Denmark in the year 2000 and has since made its way through over 30 countries. Human Library at Fairfield University was created with the permission of the Human Library Organization.

Fairfield University's 2016 Human Library is co-sponsored by DiMenna-Nyselius Library, the Office of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Center for Faith and Public Life, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs.

Meet Our Books



"My family adopted me when I was an infant; I'd love to talk about what you know and think about adoption, as compared to what I know and think."


Straight Edge

"Straight Edge for a Reason. I want to break down stereotypes surrounding individuals who choose not to drink, do drugs, or engage in party activities while at college. All individuals who choose to abstain from such activities are not all the same, or have the same reasons for choosing their way of life."


Identity Crisis

"I'm here to break the stereotypes of what it means to be Hispanic. As a first generation Hispanic American, I am constantly torn between being true to my family roots and being true to my country. When people see me they think "Hispanic", when my family sees me they think "American", and when I see myself I see confusion."


Exchanging Histories

"My college experience in Korea is different than the American experience. Let's talk about what is different and why. I can tell you about my visits to many Asian countries, such as China, Singapore and Indonesia."


Adopted From China Into A Blended Family

"I am adopted from China into a white family. My siblings are also adopted from China. I feel that although my friends would never tell me they are judging me I feel judgment when they ask questions about me and my siblings looking different. My sisters and I hope to go back to China to try and connect with our history."

Haley & Alyssa

Twins Vol. 1 & 2

"Twins are two separate individual beings that should not be considered as one entity because each of us posses different qualities and interests even though my twin is indeed my better half."


Life Goes On In Syria

"If you want to learn more about what's going on in Damascus, the capital of Syria, check me out. I have family there and I can tell you about daily life. You might be surprised."


Flying Solo

"My boyfriend broke up with me in a Swedish airport. He and I then had to fly back to America together for 10 hours. This is a story of heartbreak and how I overcame it. I don't need Prince Charming. There is life after lost love."



"I was born with a physical disability called Cerebral Palsy. I have experienced many stereotypes throughout my life but my family has led me down “the road less traveled by” through encouraging me to follow my dreams despite any obstacles that may come my way."



"I want to help break down is the stereotypes we impose upon ourselves. We are all motivated to look, think, and act a certain way as impressionable youths. It is very difficult to break out of the roles without criticism. The truth is that we are very multifaceted individuals with certain aspects of our lives defining us more than others but that does not mean that we should limit ourselves from taking interest in other aspects of cultures, traditions, music, lifestyles etc."


Non-Traditional Student-Life Long Learner

"My path to obtaining a Bachelor's and then a Master's degree was a non-traditional one. I think there are many valid, and oftentimes personal, reasons for taking this approach and want to help others understand that this route to obtaining a higher education is it no less valid or valuable than a traditional route."


Going The Distance

"I starting dating my boyfriend when I was in high school and we are in our my third year of a long distance relationship. I want to talk about the stereotype that you can't have fun in college if you have a long distance boyfriend/girlfriend. Many people also feel college students aren’t mature enough to make a long distance relationship last and I want to share my experiences"



"People have preconceptions about therapy -- misunderstandings. Also as a therapist I've been privileged to have uniquely intimate relationships with people in the places of their deepest vulnerability and I think that gives me an unusual perspective on what it means to be human"


Full STEaM Ahead

"My journey begins as an engineer in Bolivia. My decision to leave and find a less constricting path, led me to be an au pair in the US, then a graduate student in engineering at Fairfield and now an assistant dean in engineering here. Along the way, I battled gender stereotypes, overcame language barriers, encountered family disapproval, worked multiple jobs and ultimately found myself."


Overweight Doesn't Mean Unworthy

"The 'ism' I want to discuss is sizeism: Sizeism is the discrimination of prejudice based on someone's size. This year I began a journey and I have lost 117 pounds so far and counting. Being overweight does not mean that I am lazy, it does not mean that I am unworthy of your respect.”

Tom, SJ

Jesuit Priest

"People have many preconceived notions of priests, both positive and negative. I always have to assume my initial encounters with someone involves some degree of projection until we get to know each other more. Many are surprised that I was an artillery officer in the Marine Corps before entering the Jesuits, as if that experience doesn't fit their ideas of priesthood."


Blossoming From The Cracks

"I feel my narrative is important when it comes to breaking down stereotypes around students from Bridgeport and also African American students on a predominantly white campus."



"The way I learned education in my country is different than United States. This is the first time I left my home and traveled on a 38 hr long flight to land here. It was amazing when I first landed in JFK airport. Fairfield University and its faculty have helped me to make progress here to start a new life."


Do You Think I'm Spanish?

"I'm of Spanish heritage but I cannot speak the language. People assume that I can but it's hard to relearn a language. I struggle with the idea of disappointing my people and culture."


Handicaps Of The Handicapped

"As the daughter of a parent who is handicapped, I would like to use the knowledge I have collected over the eighteen years of my life to express the hardships the handicapped overcome and the goals they achieve in their everyday lives, as well as addressing any questions about the handicapped, and sharing ways to improve accommodations for the handicapped in today's society."



"I served in Fort Bliss, Texas on an Abrams Tank for 3 years."

Matt (2015 edition) And Mat (2017 edition)

You’re A What?

“No, I don’t shush people and read all day. Yes, librarians can be young guys.
We want to talk about working in an often misunderstood field that others question in a digital age. We consider it to be thriving, come see why.”


Millennial Engagement

"There is a stereotype that young people are apathetic about politics. I'd love to talk about my political activism on campus and what it means to me to be a student leader."


Muslim Immigrant

"There are some negative perceptions on what immigrants do once they come to America and how they are a negative impact more than they are a positive one. More specifically, since I am also Middle-Eastern and a Muslim, both of which have negative connotations in some circles I would like to show what most Middle Eastern people and Muslims think and believe."

Jeff Yu

Chinese Culture Code

"3 months before finishing my graduate school, I got a call from my mom saying my dad got a stroke and he was in a hospital. I am their only child and I felt I should be there with them at that moment. I would like to share thoughts about my Chinese culture where taking care of your parents is deeply ingrained."



"During this last month of my first year at Fairfield, I noticed many people believe that drinking is a necessary part of the first year experience. I intend not to drink, since move-in day, because I understand the negative consequences of drinking irresponsibly. Now, I want to share what my first year experience has been without drinking."


Perfectly Imperfect

"Remember in high school when you received that Scantron sheet? Remember when you were told to bubble in all the letters for your name, for your ethnicity, or for your age? What if we stopped trying to bubble ourselves in and make our identities fit in little boxes and categories? This narrative will focus on what it means to be imperfect in a culture that encourages everything but imperfection."


Back In Nepal

"Compared to the life I lived back in Nepal, life here has been extremely different. Living under water and fuel shortages almost all around the year and completing assignments despite having just around five hours of electricity per day may sound strange but that’s how life has been for me. I want to meet with you and share about how we manage through all these struggles and at the same time try to stay optimistic with whatever little we have."


HONESTY - Identity And DNA

"I am concerned about honesty within families and how lies hurt the generations the come after. I want to make a case for openness and compassion - at age 66 I was divorced after a 35 year relationship, moved from Sweden where I had lived and raised a family, been disowned by my father (and not supported at all by my sister) because I had talked about his sexual abuse of me and my daughter, then orphaned when he died. And then shortly after I turned 67 this fall, I found out that he was not even my biological parent. Now I am on the research path to see what I can find out about my DNA. A challenging spiritual journey."


Rootless: Growing Up As A Military Kid

"The military life is difficult and challenging for both the soldiers and their families. As a military brat, I was forced to grow up at a very early age, learn to adapt and grow in constantly changing environments, and give up having a lot of time with my extended family. Outside of military circles, those struggles are spoken of very little, if at all. My hope is to give others a glimpse at what our lives are like, and help them understand our dedication to our family and our country."



"Some people have the wrong ideas of veterans/active duty."


Living Ambiguously

"When you're born LGBT but raised Catholic, your ideas about yourself, and where you belong, can perpetually be... ambiguous. But by stepping back, and thinking beyond the usual messages that either world will tell you, I've found it's possible to appreciate—and live in—both."


My Video Game Passion

"Gaming is really huge passion in my life. I can’t count the hours of sleep I have lost playing video games but I feel it is worth the time being consumed because it is a form of stress relief, an outlet for me to express my personality, and has introduced me to other gamers all over the world."


Third Culture Kid

"From Canada to Belize, Argentina to Nicaragua, from the age of 7 I have called a new place home every few years. I developed a thick skin and a unique third culture kid point of view."


A Foreigner In My Own Country

"Being born and raised in Singapore, I was bullied throughout the nine years i was in school. Being diagnosed with ADHD as well as a long list of learning disabilities, I would like to show that there are still places that need to become more accepting of people's differences."

Zi Yi (Anna)

From Zhonguo To America

"I would like to talk about my life in Beijing, China, and what my recent experiences have been on campus as an international student adjusting to the American culture."


Good Kid, MAD City

"I would like to talk about the inequities in education and in opportunities that I experienced when I moved from a housing project neighborhood in the Bronx to a boarding school in Omaha, NE."


Journey In Progress

"As a freshman in college, there is pressure to have it all figured out. I am looking to breakdown the idea that even if you are unsure of where you're going, it does not mean you are uncomfortable in your own skin. Let's talk about embracing the journey to finding ourselves."


I'm A Triplet

"Being a part of a triplet, I am constantly being compared to my two brothers. Despite having many similarities due to DNA our personalities vary. These constant comparisons can make me lose sight of my own accomplishments. It is important to know you are still an individual and unique in your own way."


An Open Book

"I often find that I have been coined as an "open book", especially when it comes to my emotions. I have been called sensitive or "over-sensitive" countless times, which seem to be laced in negativity. I hope to break down the stereotype that sensitivity is an emotion that should be kept to oneself."



"I want to talk about how I became more carefree and less worried about what people's opinions were. I want to share how I transitioned from high school to college, overcame bullying, and broke out of the stereotypical mold of a shy person."

Recap of 2016 Event

3guys243 students, staff and faculty who wanted to break down barriers based on race, religion, sexual preference, class, gender, disability and other aspects of their lives shared their personal stories with over 400 students at our 2 day Human Library.

Video by Fairfield University

Video by HooplaHa

The Human Library provided the opportunity for the Fairfield community to share and understand the experiences of others in our community through one on one conversations. Was it successful?  You be the judge:

  •  97% of the  over 400 "readers" agreed or strongly agreed that “Through my conversation(s), my eyes were opened to someone’s experiences that I was unaware of before.”
  •  98% of the 43 "books" agreed or strongly agreed that “Through my conversation(s), I learned something new about myself that surprised me.”

Fairfield University's 2016 Human Library is co-sponsored by DiMenna-Nyselius Library, the Office of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Center for Faith and Public Life, College of Arts and Sciences, Counseling and Psychological Services, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Thanks to our Marketing and Communications department for their support of this project.