Yvonne Quek, a graduate student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service is organizing Little Rock’s first-ever Human Library event. The event will be held on April 23, 2017 from 1:30 – 4:30pm at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center at 4800 W 10th St, Little Rock, AR 72204. The event is co-sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. This interactive event invites both young and old readers to engage in meaningful conversations and hear from diverse perspectives.
The Human Library is an event that originated in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000, and since then, has been held in over 70 countries worldwide. As the name suggests, it is a library of sorts. However, instead of loaning books and magazines, during the event, real people of all walks of life (and with experiences as diverse as the books in a library) are available to be “loaned out” for real conversation. Examples of “books” may include a refugee, a recovering alcoholic, an individual with depression, someone who’s deaf and blind, a transgender person, a homeless man, someone of the Muslim faith, someone with autism, and among others. People serve as “books” on loan to “readers”, as deep repositories of our culture, biases and stories.
Ronni Abergel, the founder of the Human Library, created this safe space to allow community members to gain insight into the lives of others who may have a different perspective on the world. As Haruki Murakami puts it aptly in his book Norwegian Wood, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”