What if you had the opportunity to slow down for 30 minutes and get to know the people living in your community? What if they were people who had different political views from you? What if they had a different upbringing or life experience?
Answering these questions is the point of the worldwide movement for change called the Human Library. In April of this year, the Orange Branch of the Delaware County District Library hosted its first Human Library event. The event was a platform for hosting conversations that challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.
The concept is simple. A person with a story to tell is “checked out” to another individual for a 30-minute conversation. The “human books,” as they are called, tell their story and can offer time at the end for questions. These one-on-one conversations allow for a safe space where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.
At the library’s event earlier this year, we heard stories from an amputee survivor, an American Muslim, and an EMT with 20 years in the profession. We learned to empathize with individuals who have suffered through domestic abuse, infertility and mental health issues.
In 2019, we’ll host our second annual Human Library event at the Orange Branch Library, and we’re seeking adults willing to participate and share their stories as a “human book.” The event will take place on Saturday, April 20. We ask for a minimum commitment of two hours from the human books to provide for four “checkouts” at 30-minutes each. Volunteers will be accepted until Dec. 31.
Our hope is that open and honest conversation will allow for those involved to have a deeper understanding of others within our shared community. If you have a story to tell, contact Andy Bartlett, [email protected] or 740-549-2665. Learn more about the Human Library program at www.humanlibrary.org.
While you wait for the event, consider reading any of these titles about real people and their stories.
• “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” by David W. Blight. An acclaimed historian’s definitive biography of the most important African-American figure of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass, who was to his century what Martin Luther King, Jr. was to the 20th century.
• “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics” by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore with Veronica Chambers. Four of the most influential African-American women in politics share the story of their friendship and their behind-the-scenes public-service contributions during the careers of leaders ranging from Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson to Coretta Scott King and Barack Obama.
• “Ninth Street Women” by Mary Gabriel. A National Book Award finalist describes the lives and careers of five pioneering women artists who entered the male-dominated world of 20th-century abstract painting and changed their field and American society in the process.
• “The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters” by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. Draws on candid interviews with Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ sister, Lee, to share insights into the close relationship the two shared, discussing their artistic interests and the rivalries that complicated their bond.
If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at [email protected] No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!