SAMMI DYSON | NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Usually, the books on the third floor of the library are quiet, making the whole level a silent study space. On Wednesday, Feb. 15, however, the books were a little bit noisier than usual, creating a different atmosphere entirely. These books were speaking out, and many people got to hear them, thanks to St. Norbert College’s third annual Human Library.
Brought to campus by the Cassandra Voss Center and the Mulva Library, “Human Library” is the concept that people, who act like living books, telling their stories for people to “check out.” This is a worldwide program, which actually started in Denmark in 2000, but SNC has been sponsoring this one in Wisconsin since 2015. It allows anyone participating to enter a room where one of the human books is located and listen to them tell their story. They ran for two hours– long enough for guests to hear two of the speakers, whose stories each ran around 45 minutes.
For those guests who entered for the first hour slot at 6 p.m., they were provided information about each of the books available, and guided to the third floor of the library to choose their book for the hour from a series of different rooms. When those people were finished, they were welcomed to go to a different room for the 7 p.m. session in which they would hear an entirely new story.
These stories had several different topics, all of which shed light on ideas and experiences that those in attendance might not have understood. They were geared to teach and inform, and in doing so, also entertained the sizeable group of people that came to hear them. The Human Library this year included several titles, covering topics such as race, culture, sexism, sexuality, ability/disability, and other conversations as well.
The titles of the individual books were: “Educated Black Man Educating Others,” “Black Excellence: A Black Women’s Transformation Through Education,” “Animating All Abilities,” “Growing up with a Mixed Family: Multiracial Life,” “Gay Conversion Therapy: Through Hell and Back,” “Shadow Life: living as an undocumented immigrant,” “Yiddle In The Middle: Jewish in the Midwest,” “Overcoming the Education System: A Native American Story,” “Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling: A Woman Called to Ministry” and “Intersections of Activism: Queer Parent; Black Child.”
The Human Library provided a fun and interesting venue to get serious information and untold stories across. The people who “checked out” the human books got a chance to see things from a different angle, and attendees certianly seemed to enjoy the whole event. Many people left the rooms in conversation, which shows that the program is building understanding.
Missed out on this event? Keep an eye out; it may be around again this time next year. For more information on upcoming events for the CVC or the library, visit snc.edu/cvc/programs or snc.edu/library/events.