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Human library event aims to increase understanding, reduce prejudice

On October 17 at 10 a.m., the Grand Rapids Public Library be holding a "human library" event. At this event, people from diverse backgrounds act as "books" that can be checked out, so that people can ask about their experiences.
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To learn about the Human Library Movement, click here.

To see the GRPL Facebook event, click here.

For more information from the library, click here.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 17, the books at the Main Library of the Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library Street NE) will be coming to life. The Human Library is an event in which people from different walks of life are invited to become “books” that people can check out, or talk to for 20 minutes, in an effort to increase understanding and reduce prejudice.

At this specific event, the “books” will include a Hindu, a Muslim, a refugee, a transgender person, a same sex couple, a person who is blind, a person who is deaf, a Spiritual Intuitive, a person with early onset dementia and a person with a mental illness.

To check out a "book," participants can sign up to spend 20-30 minutes with the book that they have checked out, though they do not have to take up the full time. The one rule that the library has for the event is that participants treat the books with respect.

This Human Library is one of many that have taken place around the world. The movement began in Denmark after a violent hate crime, and now it has become a wider phenomenon. Every event has people with different backgrounds and experiences that can put a name to what is often misunderstood. Since its beginning 15 years ago, Human Library events have taken place in 70 countries.

“The purpose is to bring dialogue around issues that may have misinformation or bias,” says Marketing and Communications Manager Kristen Krueger-Corrado. “Really it’s an opportunity to break down a lot of the barriers or misperceptions that people have based on having a conversation with a person… It allows people to have a conversation one-on-one, which often times you may not be able to do, also to hopefully change a person’s perception to create an understanding where there might not be one.”

In order to choose the people who would act as books for the event, librarians and librarian assistants worked with a wide variety of outside organizations to find people who were interested in being books.

Through this event, Corrado hopes that people are able to see the library as a welcoming place of learning.

“We strive to have a dialogue about things that impact our community,” says Corrado. “To become a forum a place where people can have a voice and all sides of an issue can be looked at... I hope people see the library as a place of unbiased information- a place where everyone feels welcome, and a place for new ideas to gain insight.”

The event will be taking place on the third floor of the library with a full listing of titles.

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