The Human Library lets you check out people instead of books. It's coming to Cincinnati next month
The All Saints Episcopal Church in Pleasant Ridge will be the setting for Cincinnati's first-ever Human Library event on Nov. 12.
The Human Library Organization is a non-profit that hosts events around the world with the goal of promoting diversity and equity through storytelling. November's event in Pleasant Ridge is a collaborative effort by The Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, the Regional Coalition Against Hate and Community Happens Here.
Community members with unique life experiences or challenges, like overcoming a disability, being an immigrant or living as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, will share their stories through one-on-one conversations with visitors.
Organizers of the local event say this is a rare opportunity for anyone to have an honest conversation with someone they wouldn't interact with otherwise.
"We get stuck in our neighborhoods, we see people who are a lot like us, or we choose to move in circles that are kind of homogenous," Jennifer Korn of the Pleasant Ridge library branch said.
Korn describes the Human Library as a way to "un-judge" someone and learn about the wide range of life experiences present in the Cincinnati area. She says those who are participating as "books" for people to check out are thrilled to have the chance to share their culture with people who are unfamiliar.
"People who are participating want to do this," Korn said. "They are excited to bring something to Cincinnati to make our city even better."
The Human Library experience works in a similar way to a typical library. Visitors or "readers" will be able to choose from a selection of interesting people to meet or "check out," but instead of taking a book home, readers will sit down at a table and have a 30-minute discussion with the person they've selected.
"Spatially what it's going to look like is little vignettes," Julie Sunderland from the Regional Coalition Against Hate said. "There will be a big tower that has book titles on it. So, it'll say 'alcoholic,' 'drag queen,' 'furry,' 'bipolar,' 'retired military,' and you'll take that title, you'll bring it to a librarian, which is a volunteer, and they'll take you to meet your 'book.' "
The Human Library will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pleasant Ridge Library's temporary home inside the All Saint Episcopal Church on Parkman Place. Additional parking will be available at the nearby branch library.