The Western Connecticut State University Libraries will host the first Human Library event at WCSU on Tuesday, Oct. 1, offering members of the university and area communities an opportunity to hold one-on-one conversations with “human books” — volunteers from diverse backgrounds who will share their unique stories and challenges.
The event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on the first floor of the Haas Library on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited to participate.
Participant “readers” may “borrow” one or more human books, each for a check-out period of up to 20 minutes to conduct a conversation. The human books will deliver a short summary of their personal story and answer questions from their readers.
The human books for the WCSU event represent members of the university and regional communities, selected with the goal of affording many opportunities to learn about diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and life experiences. The national Human Library organization website described the program as “a safe space for dialogue where topics are discussed openly between our human books and their readers,” and “where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.”
WCSU Director of Library Services Veronica Kenausis explained that the Human Library, founded in Denmark in 2000, has spread to more than 80 countries over the past two decades. “Events around the world have featured ‘human books’ who are drawn from various religious, cultural, ethnic and political backgrounds,” Kenausis said. “They have struggled with various kinds of adversity such as homelessness, crime, abuse and food insecurity, and have suffered from physical challenges such as eating disorders, addiction, learning disabilities and mental illness.”
“The Human Library event at WCSU is an opportunity to have positive conversations to challenge stereotypes and prejudices, to learn about a career, or just to get to know another individual from a different background,” she observed.