The Human Library

Williams will be hosting its Annual Human Library event from February 24 to February 25 this year from 1:00 to 4:00 PM in Paresky Center.

The Gaudino Fund has partnered with the Human Library Committee, comprised of Williams staff, students and faculty members, to convert the Paresky Center into a “Human Library.”  During this event, students and other attendees can “check out” human “books” of various titles representing particular aspects of the participants’ identities.  As individuals or in groups, “readers” are allowed up to thirty minutes of conversation with their human book.  The library and the dialogues it facilitates provide a means of contemplating difference with a goal of challenge preconceptions and prejudices. The fifth annual Human Library in 2016 drew a record number of books, 58, as well as 216 readers.  Book titles included “A Cop’s Perspective,” “Child of Communism,” “Iraq War Veteran,” “Libertarian,” “Shaman,” “Pro-Life at Williams,” “Mexican Muslim Feminist” and “Rastafarian”.

Checking out the Human Library.  We often roll our eyes at those who claim that a favorite work of art or book “speaks to them,” but last week at Williams, that cliché took on a vibrant reality. Students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to participate in the Human Library, which was originally founded in Denmark in 2000 to promote difficult dialog and facilitate social cohesion.

The Human Library in the Williams Record.  On Friday and Saturday the College hosted a Human Library for all students, faculty, staff and surrounding community members.  The event took place for three hours each afternoon in Paresky. The Human Library consisted of 39 members of the community who served as “books” that could be “checked out” for 20-minute conversations with the “readers.”