Students Take a Closer Look at ‘Books’ in Human Library
A book can't be judged by its title, just as a person’s life experiences cannot be deduced from their appearance. This was proven true last week when the DiMenna-Nyselius Library hosted the Human Library Project on November 9 and 10.
An international movement that started in Denmark in 2000, the Human Library Project is now active in over 30 countries. People volunteer as human ‘books’ and participants in the event can ‘read’ the book, engaging in one-on-one conversation with the human 'book,' while also participating in a dialogue about that individual’s experience.
With a goal of building a positive framework for conversations that challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue, Fairfield students, faculty and staff from different backgrounds volunteered to be ‘books’ to share their unique story.
Speaking on the goal of the project, Jackie Kremer, head of Library Academic Partnerships and Assessment, said they hoped the event would “confront stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue by creating an intentional space for individual conversations. Ultimately, we hope to learn more about ourselves as individuals and about our own diverse Fairfield University community.”
To begin to shed light on such diversity, members of the Fairfield community shared their stories with ‘readers,’ which included tales of heartbreak, homesickness, immigration and disabilities. According to some of the ‘books’ and ‘readers,’ these 20-minute conversations offered insights that the participants wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn otherwise.
“It was important to understand the extent of diversity that exists in the Fairfield community,” said one 'book.' “I think events like these are incredible — the chance to talk to people is vastly underrated. Conversations bridge divisions that may be invisible to people. It was so rewarding talking to people and hearing their stories.”
Another explained that telling their story showed that others shared similar experiences. “Through my conversations, I realized how other students have been affected by similar experiences as well, and that I am not alone,” a ‘book’ participant said.
With stories being told across two evenings, Kremer said some readers participated on both days to learn more about the experiences of their fellow Stags because they “just love talking to people.”
While the books lining the shelves of the library may contain various stories, those who participated in the Human Library found that the same holds true for those we meet — not just on campus, but in the world at large. One reader walked away from the event and reflected, “There is no way of knowing what somebody has been through until you speak with them.”
Written by Nicole Funaro ’16
See photos from the event.