Human Library BannerOn Thursday, October 29 at noon, the Human Library welcomed our community of staff, students and faculty to share personal stories as part of an international movement to “unjudge.” This was a virtual event organized by Skyline College Library.

For the first time since Skyline College began facilitating Human Library sessions, all “human books” were fully reserved ahead of time – with many “readers” on a waitlist – as Librarian Pia Walawalkar shuffled books and readers to and fro between private breakout rooms on Zoom. This allowed for readers to check out multiple books during the two-hour event, and for books to share their stories several times as well.

The seven human books of the day included:

  • Critical Kalokohan
  • Finding Myself in the Transition
  • From Ashes to Phoenix
  • Legend of Latin Rock’s Rise from Darkness into the Light
  • Never Tell me the Odds
  • Teen Dating Survivor
  • Writing in Silence

(Full descriptions of each book appear here).

Many of the day’s student participants came from Prof. Rob William’s English course. They relayed positive experiences in learning from the stories of others. From one student, a former Air Force officer honorably discharged following a traumatic brain injury:

“As soon as I saw the posting for the Human Library, I knew I’d be interested. I thought the event would feature people who had written books, but it was more like telling stories around the campfire. Before my own accident, I belittled my own emotions, focusing on the external. Hearing about others’ lives today, reading “human books” where people described their internal struggles – it was eye opening, most definitely. 

Another reader took time to explain the impact of reading Writing in Silence:

“Firstly, it was really cool to learn how [the book’s] community in the Mission District was full of Aztec art that gave him a sense of pride and passion. In sharing his experiences about his sense of belonging in college, I learned how there can be so many insults to minority students, from aggressive comments by other students to the choice of literature taught in class. 

I could also tell that [the book] finds such power in writing; he radiated so much passion …, and his poem had so much thought and emotion in its words. It was also interesting to hear that while he spent a long time Writing in Silence, there is also a time for his voice to be heard. It’s so important for people to understand the stories of others and for people to be willing to listen!”

You can find the complete archive of human books here. If you missed the Human Library this time around, you’ll have an opportunity to participate in Spring 2021. Please stay tuned for upcoming details.

Would you like to share your story as a human book in the future? Have other questions? Please contact Pia Walawalkar <>.

The Human Library at Skyline College is supported by a President’s Innovation Fund (PIF) award.

Article by Jessica Silver-Sharp

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