The “Human Library,” an experience-sharing movement that began in Denmark, is coming to EWU’s JFK Library, on April 19, 2023, as part of Diversity and Inclusion Week.
Human Library events allow participants (known as Readers) to “check out” Human Books who volunteer to share stories about their lived experiences. Through conversation, the “books” and “readers” will break down prejudices and stereotypes in this safe event environment. “That’s what the Human Library’s about,” says Qing Stellwagen, the diversity and inclusion librarian at EWU Libraries.
The Human Books are volunteers willing to share thoughts and feelings about experiences of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, class, gender identity, disability or other aspects of life. The event committee invites volunteers from all across the EWU community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and local community members.
“Sometimes, in our society, people don’t want to talk openly about these subjects because it makes them uncomfortable. So we’re trying to have a comfortable and supportive environment for dialogue to happen and for people to learn,” says Stellwagen.
“The purpose of the Human Library event is to create dialogue and a deeper understanding, and to promote greater diversity and tolerance in our community,” she adds.
The event will feature special librarians to encourage and facilitate safe discussions. Once readers select and check out a Human Book, the book will introduce him/her/themselves and share stories. The 15 – 20 minute checkout time will allow readers the opportunity to ask questions.
Do you have a lived experience that is unlike others you know? Do you want to offer impressions of your experiences to help break down stereotypes and encourage greater understanding? The Human Library Event Committee welcomes your book submission application. Volunteer Human Books will have an opportunity for training.
Event organizers invite you to learn more about this event — sponsored by EWU’s School of Libraries and the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — and apply to be a Human Book on the event website: ewu.edu/humanlibrary or call 509.359.6201 with questions.