There are many factors that influence how people judge other people. Physical features, beliefs, emotions, lifestyles, are just a few. Maybe you have experienced something significant, whether it's tragic or phenomenal, that is often hard for others to understand.
The purpose of the Human Library is to open communication between diverse people in order to better understand those who are different from ourselves. There is so much to learn. The Human Library offers a safe place for "books" to share their stories and "readers" to ask questions.
What do I gain from volunteering?
Since this is a volunteer position, there is no financial compensation. We provide light refreshments for our volunteers on the day of the event. While everyone’s experiences are different, past volunteers have expressed a sense of camaraderie, validation, and pride that comes from meeting fellow volunteers and sharing their stories with members of the public. They also find connections in unexpected places- through members of the public that enjoy sharing their stories as much as our volunteers, through finding that there is more acceptance and knowledge after the interaction and through the mutual understanding of being human beyond a single identity. You can get more ideas of the benefits by looking at the Experience page of this guide.
How does a Human Library event work?
When a member of the public arrives, he/she/they will be introduced to the program by a Librarian (staff member) and will choose which volunteer to speak with. At that point, you are seated together to begin your conversation. Conversations can last as long as you like unless someone else is waiting to speak with you, at which point we end the conversation at 25 minutes. To better understand what a Human Library looks like, you can watch a video of our first event or a video of a more recent event.
How much time am I committing?
By volunteering, you are agreeing to attend a training session (1 hr, arranged individually or online) and the Human Library event on Thursday, April 23rd.
How do I know what to do and what to talk about?
If you volunteer, a coordinator will talk to you about the role and answer any questions you have. If you have questions before that contact Annette Alvarado (firstname.lastname@example.org). At the training, you’ll receive an information packet that including the tips for handling a difficult conversation.
Conversations between volunteers and the public usually flow naturally. We provide members of the public with “starter questions” that you will come up with, in case they need some help figuring out what to say. Just be yourself - that will help to relax you and to relax the person you’re talking with.
How does staff keep the environment safe for volunteers like me?
Maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for you to share your story is our top priority. When members of the public check into an event, they are read a statement to which they have to verbally agree in order to participate.
When you volunteer, you will be asked to create a "title" for yourself and that will be used throughout the event, your name will never be used. We also would not use your name in any public documentation or give it out to anyone.
Additionally, a moderator will be continuously walking around the room to help monitor conversations. Volunteers are provided with crisis cards that can be used to subtly signal that a moderator needs to end the conversation.