‘Human Library’ to offer personal stories


SVSU will host its second Human Library event on Tuesday, March 20, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on the first floor of Zahnow Library.

During the event, students will be able to have 15- to 20-minute conversations with an individual whose story is meant to push them out of their comfort zone and inform.

“The Human Library is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue,” said Human Library event coordinator Ashley Blinstrub. “The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.”

This year, the members of the on-campus community will participate as books, and contribute their stories to the popular event.

“Unlike last year, we will have books that are part of the SVSU community this year,” Blinstrub said. “We have students, staff and faculty members sharing their stories as part of the event. We really wanted to show the depth of our community at SVSU and give students the opportunity to talk to members of their own community.”

Blinstrub described some of the books that will be available.

“The first book is the story of a transplant recipient who received a kidney-pancreas transplant shortly after her brother died from complications related to the same procedure,” Blinstrub said. “She reminisces on the circumstances leading up to and following her transplant, including her interactions with the donor’s family.”

Another book will be about a woman who was inspired to create her own political group.

“The second book is about a woman who was so surprised at the power and emotion she felt when she attended the Women’s March on Washington that she went on to found her own local political group,” Blinstrub said. “Today, the group encourages community participation in rallies, marches and protests.”

A third book will tell the story of an autistic gay immigrant.

“This book details a life story as a first generation American, autistic guy who likes guys and the lessons he’s learned over 26 years of life,” Blinstrub said. “He protested alone for same-sex marriage on Black Friday 2008. He is an actor searching for the right words and gestures to be understood.”

Another book tells the story of a female veteran.

“This book will share her story of serving in the U.S. military,” Blinstrub said. “With 17 years in and three deployments under her belt, her story provides insight into why some women compartmentalize their own military status. One of the book’s most powerful chapters is the story of how a trip to 7-Eleven changed her perspective on military service, sacrifice and stereotype.”

Blinstrub hopes that the stories will provide students with insight into their community.

“I hope that students will have a broader view of the SVSU community after this event and will enter their daily interactions with more understanding of other people’s life stories,” Blinstrub said. “The Human Library is unlike any other experience. There is nothing like having an open conversation with a stranger.”

Zahnow Library Director Anita Dey agreed that the Human Library offers an excellent learning opportunity.

“This event gives students the chance to encounter people who are often stereotyped for many reasons,” Dey said. “Speaking directly with these people fosters understanding and potential personal growth, and ultimately teaches students to not judge a book or a person by its cover or their life circumstances.”