Human library event fosters learning


Gillian Holte/Iowa State Daily

Brenda Yan Hwee Goh, sophomore in political science, participates as a “Human Book” during Human Library. The Human Library consists of 13 Human Books who have volunteered to challenge prejudice through conversations with the public. They will have a title that relates to their experience of prejudice and/or discrimination. The Human Library was held in Parks Library on March 7.

Logan Metzger

Parks Library hosted a Human Library event Thursday in 198 Parks Library. A human library is like a normal library but the books are humans who tell their stories.

The human books that were present at the event included “The Independent,” “Cancer survivor, or, when my ovary tried to eat me,” “Labyrinth of Hope,” “Endeavors In Living: To Be Continued,” “Black Atheist,” “Quite Quiet: During and Post Selective Mutism,” “Inter-sectional Feminist Queen,” “Cantemasice: Growing Up a Native American Woman,” “Down Home Success,” “Dreams: A Life Journey,” “Crying with those in need,” and “Off of the Island and into the Snow: How moving to Iowa offered me a host of new experiences and opportunities.”

When entering the event attendees were asked to agree to a code of conduct which included points such as the event is not a speed dating event so no flirting and participants should be respectful of the human book’s story.

There were around seven books talking each 30 minute session with attendees listening intently with their “library cards” in hand and asking questions.

The book “Cantemasice: Growing Up a Native American Woman,” or Isa Cournoyer, a senior in journalism and mass communications, talked about how she has turned her experiences of violence and harassment into resiliency.

“My story is about being a woman in modern times, it’s sad, it’s about prejudice and sexual assault,” Cournoyer said. “The first time I told my story I cried, the second time I cried too but I’m getting through it.”

The book “The Independent,” or Vianka Damas, a sophomore in accounting, talked about being independent and how being selfish is okay when it’s about taking care of yourself.

“I haven’t talked about my story before, and I think its time for me to tell my story,” Damas said. “I know there are people out there who can relate to me.”

Students, staff, faculty and community members attended the event to find new perspectives and learn new stories.

“There were a lot of new things I learned from these experts, a lot of things I never really thought about before,” said Mai Ha Vu, a community member.

Joseph Knight, a community member, said that he had a really open dialogue with the book “Dreams: A Life Journey.”

“I think this is a way for people to experience a story they wouldn’t normally get to experience,” Knight said.