Students, faculty, and staff gathered at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library last week to participate in the Human Library project at Fairfield.
I learned that speaking about the toughest things in my life have helped me get over being in my head all the time
— Human Library "Book"
“Never judge a book by its cover.” The adage has been heard time and again, but last week the Fairfield community came together to put that saying into action during the second annual Human Library event.
Held in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, the Human Library brought to life the stories of over 40 human “books” who shared their personal experiences, triumphs, challenges, and learning curves to over 500 “readers.” By telling their stories, human “books” were able to create dialogue that challenged stereotypes, defied norms, and confronted prejudices.
With this open storytelling creating barrier-shattering conversations, Reference and Instruction Librarian Barbara Ghilardi said that the Human Library proved to be a forum for finding unity in the midst of diversity.
“Our books’ stories were powerful examples of the stereotypes, prejudices, and barriers that face our community. It is a great way for us to all come together to learn from one another. I’m proud to help put on an event that engages all parts of our community and keeps us remembering our differences are what make Fairfield special.”
Those who were books found the experience to be equally moving, not just in terms of the conversations they shared, but in how the talks made them feel.
“I learned that speaking about the toughest things in my life have helped me get over being in my head all the time,” said a first-year student who participated as a book. “It helped me understand how important it was to talk about it since I am now more comfortable with myself and my story.”
Readers, however, found their worldviews challenged, and their eyes — and hearts — opened. One staff member said that she knows her experience speaking with her book will have a lasting effect on her in the future.
“It's so impactful to speak with someone in an individual way and ask questions that normally are taboo,” she said. “My conversation will help me check myself and my notions as a staff member and think more critically about my privilege. I think that I can now be a stronger advocate for and with students because this activity is also an exercise in listening. I feel excited about the future and about learning more and being more.”