human library“I learned that people and subjects have a lot more in common than we think. This has been a very eye-opening experience,” said one visitor to the first ever Skyline College Human Library event hosted by the Library on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

The Human Library Project is an international movement that began in Denmark to combat prejudice and stereotypes by creating dialog and fostering understanding among people of different backgrounds and experiences. At Human Library events, the books are people and it was set up just like a normal library: You check out a “book” on a certain topic and have twenty minutes with that specific book. However, at the Human Library, the “book” is human, and you can have a conversation with that person about important issues such as ethnicity, religion, gender, identity, family history, and more. “Readers,” or event participants, are encouraged to ask questions freely for honest answers in return. Books are willing to share individual stories, challenges and life experiences.

The library offered 18 diverse “Human Books” including immigrants to the U.S. from Afghanistan, Brazil, Hong Kong, Algeria, Israel, and Nicaragua; people of different religious faiths, sexual orientation, gender identity; local community leaders, SMCCCD Board of Trustee President, Thomas “Tom” Mohr, and Skyline College president, Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud. There were over 50 unique conversations, or “check-outs,” by students, faculty, staff and community members at the Human Library event at Skyline College and many requested to extend their time.

The feedback for the event was overwhelming positive from “Readers” and “Books.” Many participants suggested that the Human Library event be offered every year, every semester, or every week.  One Reader shared, “My book was awesome! I had an amazing chat about religion and about her experiences as an immigrant.” Another Reader commented: “I learned about my book’s obstacles and that they can be overcome and you can still succeed.” One student said of Dr. Stanback Stroud: “I spoke with the College President, and learned about the nature and extent of racism in the Deep South in the 20th century.”

The Human Library event was supported by the Skyline College President’s Innovation Fund.  For further information, and to see biographies of our Human Books, go to Skyline Human Library Event 2017.

Article by Mary Torres Volken and Pearl Ly | Photos by Pearl Ly