IUPUI Human Library

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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 IUPUI Human Library, a campus-funded Welcoming Campus Initiative, will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, April 2, at the Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

People who would like to be a human book are asked to complete a form.

“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 why they would want to be a book, what types of discrimination they have faced based on status, and what the title and three possible chapters of their book would be. 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.