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Human Library seeks volunteers to become Books

Students at ISU's Human Library

First-year students attend Illinois State's first Human Library on September 16, 2014, featuring "Books" (speakers) who have experienced prejudices or discrimination in their lives.

The Human Library Project at Illinois State University is seeking volunteers to tell their stories as human “Books.”

Volunteers will spend time sharing personal experiences with small groups of first-year students at Illinois State. “A Book is a person who has volunteered to challenge prejudice and social exclusion through respectful conversation,” said Katie Pratt of University College, which oversees the Human Library.

Project leaders are seeking those who have endured prejudice and stereotypes and shown perseverance in the face of discrimination or social exclusion. Those interested need to submit a short “Book Proposal” on the Human Library website. Those accepted will attend a training session in early September, and must be available for the Human Library on Sept. 23.

When applying, volunteers need to choose a “topic” for their Book. Topics can range from those who battle depression and cancer, to former gang members and stay-at-home moms. “We believe that everyone’s story is unique, and that sharing those stories will help our students recognize that difference is valuable in making a society stronger,” said Pratt.

The Human Library Project began last year, with around 500 first-year students meeting with Books. Read more about last year’s project. This year, the number of students will expand as more classes are added to the project.

Pratt noted volunteers are welcome not just from the University, but from all over the community. “Students arrive on campus having spent most of their lives with people similar to them,” said Pratt. “The importance of the Human Library is for students to discover strength from those whose backgrounds might be vastly different or very similar to their own.”

For additional information, contact Pratt at humanlibrary@ilstu.edu.