The Human Library 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.

Human Library committee members are seeking those who have endured adversity and stereotypes and shown perseverance in the face of discrimination or social exclusion. Those interested need to submit a short “Book Summary” on the Human Library website by August 1. Those accepted will attend a training session in early September, and must be available for the Human Library on September 21.

When submitting their summary, volunteers will need to choose a title for their Book. Stories 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 at Illinois State began in 2014, with around 500 first-year students meeting with Books. This year, the number of students will expand as more classes are added. The Human Library, taking place in September, will be available only to students enrolled in Illinois State’s Success 101, LinC, and Transfer Student Seminar classes. The students will act as the “Readers” of the “Book” volunteers.

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.”

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