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Human Library

This guide serves as in introduction to the Human Library and provides guidance on how to host a Human Library event.

Hosting a Human Library Event

Hosting a Human Library event is pretty straightforward but takes time to plan and execute the event. We followed these steps:

1. We contacted the Human Library Organization in June 2019 and enquired about details on hosting an event. They gave us some basic information and instructed us to fill out the Human Library Organizer Application under the Events tab on their website.

2. We submitted the application in the third week of June and they sent us a welcome packet containing the license agreement and links to the Human Library Organizers Kit which contains their logo and very useful information on how to successfully recruit, vet, and train high quality books, as well as valuable guidance for human books and readers.

3. It took us a while to send them the agreement. Summer is kind of slow so we didn't pursue this project over the summer. We filled in the license agreement and sent it along with the license fee of $99 in September when were into the fall session  and they sent us a signed copy of the agreement.

4. We formed a Human Library Commitee consisting of the following members: Hayley Bataglia, Lauren Johnson, Clara Ogbaa (Library Director) and Winnie Shaym (Committee Chair). We held our first meeting on September 26, 2019, and discussed the following here and when the event will be held, how many books, process for recruiting books, checkput spaces, advertising/publicity, supplies, and refreshments for the event. We thought we could hold the event during Social Justice Month in November but felt that we may not have enough time to get it all together by then and decided to have it on February 11, 2020, from 1-8 pm. Before the next meeting we would  review training materials sent by the HLO, Fairfield University's Guide on "How to Plan, Execute, and Assess a Human Library Event,"  and training vides from Fairfield University, and InfoPeople Webinar on "How to Organize and Run a Successful Human Library".

5. The committee met every other week for an hour until the end of November and discussed various details. At our second meeting on October 10, we reviewed the book application form and the libguide that were created for this event, and finalized the budget and the refreshments. We also discussed recruiting volunteers for making library cards for the readers, greeting readers, checking in and checking out books, making table tents for reserving tables where the event will take place, making sure our human books are well treated and that they are returned on time, providing refreshements for human books and other volunteers, making buttons for the event, providing T-shirts for human books, organizers, and library volunteers, making 3D printouts of the Human Library logo to place on tables in the event venue, printing event flyers, and printing rules to be handed out to books and readers, and for handing out candy to attract potential readers.

6. At our third meeting on October 24, we discussed the T-shirt design and price quotes and decided to order 50 in different sizes. The flyers for the event will be handed over personally to each academic department on campus for distribtuion to students and faculty as well as other offices such as Office of Multicultural Affairs, Student Government Association, and Office of Diversity and Equity. We reviewed price quotes for refreshements from various sources and narrowed down our choices. 
Note: The important thing, when creating advertising materials for the event, is that the Human Library logo + bookey-figure is always prominently displayed using the correct font. Their tag line "Unjudge Someone" must be included and remember to add @HumanLibraryOrganization in any social media shares - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. And finally, please make sure to create the event on Facebook as soon as possible and add the Human Library Organization as co-hosts. Then you event will appear on their international page as well for further exposure.

7. In the first week of November, we put together a packet of information to give to the provost when our Director meets with him for his approval of our budget and other event proposals. We also created an event flyer and surveys for our readers and human books to be filled after the event.

8. As soon as we got the provost's approval in the second week of November, we posted the book application forms on our library home page. We also had print forms conveniently located at the Check-Out Desk. We advertised on social media and other communication channels on campus including campus e-mail announcements, the school newspaper, the library newsletter, and electronic bulletin boards in the library and student center. Flyers were distributed and posted all over campus and on the library website. We also enlisted volunteers to help with various aspects of the event.

8. Applications kept trickling in through December and January. There was a lull during the holidays and wintersession. The T-shirts were ordered just before the holiday week in December and we recieved them in the first week of January. We reviewed and finalized the list of human books. We decided not to open this up to people from the community the first time. We compiled a list of phone interview questions.

9. We contacted potential human books and scheduled phone interviews in January. Due to winter break, it took time to contact everyone and make appointments. As a consequence, a couple of appointments were scheduled in the first week of February. Based on the books we recruited and their availability on February 11, we decided to have two sessions on February 11. The first was from 1-4 pm. and the second from 5-8 pm. Breaking this into two sessions will ensure more readers attend our event.

10. Candidates were interviewed in January and the first couple of days February. We sent acceptance letters to those who were recrutied as human books with the details of the event. Rejection letters were sent to those who did not meet the requirements. At the time of the interview the candidates were asked to think about their book titles and submit a short biography (3 to five sentences) and a head shot for the catalog entries. Candidates were also informed that they would need to attend a training session before the event. We created a training manual for book volunteers late January.

11. Training for human books was held over two days (Feburary 4 and 5) with two different time slots each day (10-11 am and 1-2 pm). Candidates could choose to attend any one of the sessions. Committee members took turns conducting the training sessions. All sessions were held in our instruction classroom. We screened a short video about the human library, gave them tips on how to be a good book, opeing the conversation and maintaining smooth flow, code of conduct and confidentiality, what to expect, how to seek help if the situation gets uncomfortable, etc. During the training, human book candidates were given a chance to review and edit their biographies and book titles. Handouts containing the contents of the training session were distributed. Book volunteers also signed a contract indicating their willingness to participate in the event. Light refreshements were provided for the training sessions. 

12.Training for those who volunteered to help with the event was conducted February 6 for an hour. Seven members of the library staff offered to help. We provided them with an overivew of the event and explained what each one will be responsible for during event.

13. We created a brochure with book titles and photos for the library website and bulletin board, and to distribute to anyone interested in being a reader.  

14. We contacted the Counseling Department on campus and alerted them about the event and asked if they would be available to help in case a book or a reader felt traumatized during the event and needed support. They readily agreed to  render support if needed but, fortunately, nothing untoward happened.

16. In the end of January, we contacted the Office of Public Affairs which oversees the Socual Media Managers Council to advertise the event, and Southern News, the school newspaper, for coverage of the event.

17. We created a Human Library book exhibit the week of the event showcasing books in the library that upheld the pillars of prejudice.

18. On the day of the event, books were asked to report half hour before their time so they could have some refreshments, wear their Human Library T-shirt, ask any questions they might have, and relax till it was their turn. At the time of the event, our greeter volunteers recrutied readers as people entered the library. We had two free-standing magnetic white board easels at the designated check-out spot, one that said "Available" and one that said "Checked Out", Book titles were written on magnetic tapes and placed on the "Available" easel. If a reader wished to check out a book, they filled out a short form with their name and contact information (this served as their library card) and the volunteer at the check-out desk indicated the title of the book checked out and the time it was due. The volunteer who checked out the book noted the book title and time due in the book check-out form for each session. "Rules for Readers" was handed out to each reader. The magnetic strip of the title checked out was then moved to the "Checked Out" easel. When the book was returned, the magenetic title strip was placed back on the "Available" easel.

19. For the most part, it was very smooth and we were happy with the success of our maiden attempt at hosting a Human Library event. If a reader took more time than was alloted, our volunteer helper alerted the book/reader and the book was then returned promptly. There's alwasy room for improvement and there are lessons we learned that could make things better the next time.

20. We distributed book and reader surveys to all the participants soon after the event which they returned before they left for the day or later by email. 

21. Thank you letters were sent to all human book volunteers.

22. We shared our survey results with the Human Libary Organization.