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The Human Library is an event designed to challenge stereotypes and prejudice through dialogue. It offers an opportunity for real people, known as “Books,” to be “checked out” to “Readers” for a one-on-one conversation for 20-25 minutes.

The Books are people who have experienced discrimination or prejudice based on disability, race, appearance, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, body size, occupation, immigrant status, or another social reality. They have volunteered to challenge prejudice through respectful conversation. In the Human Library, Books not only speak but also are able to reply to the Readers’ questions and can
ask questions themselves.

Evanston’s upcoming Human Library Event will take place at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., from noon to 3 p.m. on Sept. 15.

The Evanston Public Library’s April Human Library received overwhelming positive reviews from the 50 or so “Readers” who attended. Both the “Books”
and the “Readers” reported having a wonderful time.

Evanston is just one of several forward-thinking communities in Illinois that sponsor Human Libraries. Others are in Chicago, at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and at Illinois State University in Normal.

Their comments included the following:

“Preconceived notions are challenged when you speak with someone face to face.”“The more interaction we have, the thinner the boundary. The more we see our commonalities.”“I was impressed by how “open” the participants were about sharing their story.”                           “I’ve been given new perspectives, and had all of my questions answered.”“I actually just enjoyed the experience and meeting someone of a “different” race. Discrimination never came up.”