Have you ever checked out a book that made you change the way you look at the world? Well, on Friday, Sept. 6, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library hopes you do just that when it hosts The Human Library.
The Human Library is much like a regular library – except the books are volunteers from all walks of life who have experienced discrimination based on race, religion, sexual preference, class, gender identity, sex, age, lifestyle choices, disability, and other aspects of their life.
During the September First Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m. at KHCPL Main, there will be a board listing all the books available for checkout. Sample titles include Lady Police Officer; Sustainable Farmer; You’re a Lesbian? You Do Not Look Like it; Old German Baptist Brethren and the Two Kingdoms; Apostolic Pentecostal; Black Orphan; Crossing the Border; Gay Faith - Being a Gay Man of God; and Overcoming Drugs and Sexual Abuse.
Attendees select the book they want to read. Then sit down and talk.
“I am a firm believer that the more you know about someone who isn’t like you, the less likely you are to judge them because of your differences,” said Trisha Shively, coordinator of the event.
Just as the library has rules about materials that are loaned out, there will be rules for these books, according to Lisa Fipps, director of marketing.
“The reader should return the book in the same mental and physical condition in which it was borrowed. In other words, you don’t check out a book to try to change it, judge it, or berate it. In essence, borrowing is based on mutual respect. This is a time to read a book to grow in understanding,” Fipps said.
The Human Library started in Denmark, where it’s called “Menneskebiblioteket,” in 2000 at the Roskilde Festival. The organizer started it in response to a person being attacked for being different. It was open eight hours a day for four days straight and featured more than 50 books. The selection provided readers the ability ample to challenge their stereotypes. To date, the Human Library has been presented in more than 70 countries around the world.
In 2017 and 2018, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library brought The Human Library to town, and the response was overwhelming both years, said Fipps.
“People wanted us to do it again. So we are,” she said.
The Human Library is for teens and adults. KHCPL will have activities for children during the September First Friday as well.