By Sarah E. North, Assistant Library Director
Casper College Library
The Casper College Goodstein Foundation Library enjoyed great success in February with the launch of Wyoming’s first Living Library in collaboration with the 2017 Casper College Humanities Festival and Demorest Lecture. The event, expected to bring in 40 attendees, drew a crowd of nearly 100 interested library patrons curious to discover what a Living Library was.
“Living Libraries” or “Human Libraries,” have the same general concept — come to the library for a story, but instead of checking out a book, you borrow a person. Each of us has a unique narrative of struggles we’ve faced, and the Living Library presents those stories as an opportunity for conversation. More than that, the Living Library allows unconventional and sometimes controversial perspectives to be shared in a safe space that promotes inclusivity, in the hopes of challenging stereotypes and encouraging understanding.
Attendees at Casper College Library’s Living Library were able to choose between four inspiring “books” who had stories of trauma, personal discovery, and overcoming adversity:
- “Transgender in Casper” outlined one woman’s experience with coming out as transgender in Wyoming.
- “Loving Life with PTSD: A Young Veteran Story” described how PTSD has given one young veteran a new purpose and focus in life.
- “A Community College President: (a.k.a. An Average Joe)” walked Readers through the surprising journey of becoming a college administrator.
- “From Rags to Happiness” and “Dogtails” presented a set of stories from a young woman with cerebral palsy and her service dog.
Library staff were overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the Living Library and hope to make it a recurring event in the future with a longer event length, additional Books, and more opportunities for in-depth conversations.
Feedback for the event was supportive and highlighted the sense of community that the event fostered:
[su_quote]“The honesty of each participant drew me right in. Very easy to empathize and understand. There’s a real thread of community in each presentation”[/su_quote]
[su_quote]“I feel inspired and hopeful for our community. It’s tough to hear what people have gone through.”[/su_quote]
[su_quote]“These books have really opened my eyes to more perspections [sic]. Love everyone for who they are and NOT what you want them to be.”[/su_quote]
For more information on the origins of human libraries, see www.humanlibrary.org