Centre College’s Grace Doherty Library recently hosted a Human Library designed to facilitate conversations between students, faculty, staff and members of the larger Danville community. The event, in its second year, allowed individuals to “check out” human “books” for thirty minutes of conversation about whatever topic the “book” had prepared.
Carrie Frey, the associate director of library services, explained that this event played a larger role in enhancing the creativity of education at Centre.
“The Human Library is part of the Creative Commons series, which was implemented as part of the Quality Enhancement Plan devoted to the fostering of creativity for students, staff and faculty that grew out of our most recent reaffirmation of accreditation cycle,” she said.
This series includes other events like “CRED Talks,” Centre’s own TED Talks, and the convocation “AfroPeru: Race, Gender and the Transformative Power of Art,” which strive to cultivate creative thinking and shared learning opportunities among Centre students, staff and faculty.
While this weekend represented the Human Library’s second year on campus, the event has occurred globally for several years.
“The original Human Library took place in Denmark in 2010, with the desire to spur social change and understanding among people around sometimes difficult points of conversation,” Frey noted.
In order to bring this event to campus, students became the driving force behind its implementation and organization both this year and last spring semester.
“Last year James Stevenson ‘18 approached us with the desire to implement the event on our campus. Stevenson and Leah Kelly ‘19 were the two students who worked very hard with our library and the public library to get the event off the ground last year,” Frey remarked.
She continued, “This year, Stevenson, Lorna Closeil ‘20, Becky Fulton ‘18 and Nando Gonzalez ‘18 have labored to increase the impact of the event and to build on the success of last year’s Human Library.”
Within the past year, these students, with the support of staff, faculty and the Danville community, have opened a space for important dialogues on mental health, diversity, domestic violence and socioeconomic inequalities. The Human Library has also attracted people interested in conversations such as Native American spirituality, organic gardening, writing advice and the role of science today, among others.
Through these kinds of interesting yet difficult discussions, Frey aims to facilitate empathy on campus and within the larger Danville community, reflection on social and cultural issues affecting community members and linkages between Danville and Centre’s campus.
This last goal had special importance as the Boyle County Public Library in Danville also welcomed the library event the next day.
“By hosting the event one day in our Grace Doherty Library and the next at the Boyle County Public Library, we hope to encourage both communities to step outside their comfort zones and to speak with someone with different interests or background, thus building a wider community of engagement and inclusion,” Frey added.
She hopes to continue the library’s impact on both communities, making it an annual event.
By Kathleen Murphy ’18
November 7, 2017