At this “human library” you check out people instead of books
Posted by NowThis on Monday, March 7, 2016
Have you ever wished you could check something out at the library that’s just a little bit livelier than a book? Last week at the University of North Texas’ Human Library, you could, as long as you promised not to judge the book by its cover.
On March 3, UNT hosted an event called the Human Library. This was the university’s 4th year to hold the free, annual event on their campus. Participants could check out a Human Book based on an interest in the book’s title.
But what exactly are Human Books? They are actually a lot more human than book, and consist of real representatives from groups that tend to be stereotyped or misunderstood. Mandy Rausch, outreach coordinator for UNT Libraries, says some of this year’s Human Books had titles such as “I Have Two Moms,” “Transgender,” “Fat,” “Cerebral Palsy,” “African American,” and “Feminist,” among others. After checking out their selected title, the reader could have a conversation with their Human Book of choice for 15 to 30 minutes. “Readers” were encouraged to ask questions in this safe environment that fostered openness.
Rausch says UNT’s Department of University Relations, Communication, and Marketing put together a video of the event before sending it out to NowThis News. Since the social news video company posted the video on Facebook, it has garnered more than 2 million views, nearly 36,000 reactions, and 27,000 shares and counting.
The Human Library Organization finds its roots in Denmark, where it began to create a dialogue concerning misunderstood, stigmatized groups. The tagline of the Human Library is “Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover,” and this metaphor forms the spine of the program. The Human Library Organization is set on putting prejudices to rest by initiating dialogue between people who may never encounter each other in their day-to-day lives. By creating a space for people to discuss differences, ask tough questions, and discover similarities, the Human Library hopes to create change by means of conversation at events that take place all over the world.
Rausch says that the Human Library began at UNT as part of the university’s “UNT Speaks Out” series. Acquiring an average of 120 visitors each year, the Human Library has since “evolved into a stand-alone event,” she added.
Oh, and don’t worry if you missed this year’s Human Library—Rausch says you’ll be able to loan out a Human Book next spring. “We absolutely plan to continue doing this in years to come,” she says. “It’s very popular among our campus community and Denton community members, and we have received excellent feedback from all participants: Human Books, readers, and volunteers.”
You have plenty of time to decide which Human Book you’re going to check out.