INDIANAPOLIS – Organizers of a Human Library at IUPUI are recruiting 75 Indianapolis-area residents who have faced discrimination to become “books” at an event that will challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.
“The Human Library is a place where real people and their stories are ‘on loan’ to readers,” said Andrea Copeland, associate professor and chair, Department of Library and Information Science at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, and lead organizer of the event. “It’s a place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.”
The framework of a library is particularly appropriate, Copeland said: “People go to libraries in search of new knowledge. Usually, the knowledge vessel is a book. In this case, the knowledge vessel is a human.”
People who would like to volunteer to serve as books must be at least 18 years old. They are asked to answer these questions:
Why would you want to be a book?
Which of the following types of discrimination have you faced based on your status? Age; disability; sex; genetic information; sexuality; national origin; pregnancy; race; religion; weight; social status; ethnicity; language spoken; occupation; physical health; mental health; lifestyle.
What would be the title of your book? And three possible chapters?
Human books will be expected to participate for at least two of the hours the Human Library will be open. When the human books are checked out, they will meet with a reader, or readers, for 30 minutes.
Volunteer human books will receive training on being a book, and readers will be given guidelines for respectful communication.
Students, faculty and staff from the School of Informatics and Computing, the School of Liberal Arts, University Library, and the Indianapolis Public Library are working together to develop the event.
A large media arts screen featuring information about some of the books and an online human book catalog are being developed to help visitors select which books they would like to check out. Each book title will have a word that illustrates the form of discrimination the human book will discuss.