The Human Library

The Human Library

Whether you started your higher education here, or you’ve transferred in, you know that Columbia College is a melting pot of different cultures, races, and overall backgrounds. Many of the students here have a tendency to go with the flow, as we’re open-minded people, but it’s always good to ask questions for better understanding of a person or their experiences. The Human Library event is meant to provide you all with that great opportunity.

The Human Library is being brought to Columbia College for the very first time, and the concept is one that both students and staff could benefit from. At the event, students will be able to talk to “human books”, these are those who want to share their experiences and enlighten others about who they are, who their people are, and touch on topics that we as a society may be silent about. There’s a lot of topics that will be dispersed to different books that correlates to The Human Library’s 10 pillars of prejudice. These are: religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, mental health, social status (homelessness, immigrant, unemployed, etc.), physical disability, political lifestyle/ ideologies, and being a victim or relative of certain situations (physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.)

Here’s how it works: prior to the start of the conversation, book readers get a card with suggested questions for jump-starting a conversation with the human books. Generally, readers are really interested in hearing about the experiences of others, and the conversations flow naturally. It’s a chance to hear first-person accounts of what it’s like to experience challenging situations in life, and how people are able to overcome.

You may be thinking, that’s cool and all, but why should I care? This event could connect you to those who you have never understood, you may meet people you have never thought you’d have the opportunity to meet and talk to, and your eyes could be opened to a new perspective on a topic you thought you knew. These are the things that bring us together as a community and create comradery between us eclectic people. It celebrates our differences and brings them to light giving the books that already reside in The Human Library and you the chance to share a story.

That’s right, students have the ability to participate in the event as books! Any student, regardless of age, can volunteer to be a book, you just need to have a good story to share about a life experience, struggle you overcame or are still working with, or a life challenge you transcended. Nothing is off limits to talk about. Stories of discrimination, sexual abuse, homelessness, and more are completely welcome and encouraged if you are courageous enough to share. Students who want to volunteer to be a book can receive training on Thursday, April 12, 12 – 1 p.m. in the Columbia Library, 624 S. Michigan, 3rd floor North. The Human Library organizers will provide an overview of what to expect, and how best to share their stories with audiences, and how to end a conversation that might be uncomfortable. All of the need to know basics on being a human book will be provided by the organizers, so don’t be afraid of not doing well. Remember that your story is just as important as everyone else’s in the library and you deserve to be heard.