Arlington Public Library hosted a "Human Library" this past Saturday. Some hours after it ended, I felt a deep appreciation for an extraordinary day spent with Arlington County colleagues, friends, families, a baby and more than a hundred curious readers eager to engage in honest, face-to-face conversations. “Human books” and readers sat across from one another, respectfully probed highly personal subjects, listened and learned. Living as we do in a time when technology makes information constantly available, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of news stories that highlight our differences and headline depressing topics.
The "Human Library" offers an alternative. A promise of increasing understanding, acceptance and mutual respect by simply sitting down and talking openly and unreservedly to one another.
On Saturday, April 29, 16 "human books" were accessed over 110 times by event participants. Photo credit Daniel Rosenbaum.
I was a "human book"—my title, “Coming Out Late.” Each conversation I had was a revelation, an opportunity for me to delve further into my own story and relate to someone as they reflect on their own or those they hold dear.
What an honor and a privilege to share one’s most intimate thoughts and experiences with a stranger and come away feeling seen and heard. I am thankful to the Library leadership for their willingness to try something completely different and to our extraordinary staff who spent months planning the program.
I am grateful to those who joined us and gave selflessly of themselves and for demonstrating to the community how to care for one another.
Our "Human Library" was a very big deal, and we hope to bring it back again soon.
Always open. Always free. Always human.
Diane KreshDirector, Arlington Public Library