Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said “A mind that is stretched by a new experience cannot go back to its old dimensions.” That is how my mind feels after participating in a Human Library Organization event last week. I am forever changed in all sorts of positive, powerful ways.

We all start as strangers.” Unknown

Earlier this year I had the honor to interview ​​Ronni Abergel, founder and CEO of the Human Library. The Human Library Organization has similarities to all libraries. Anyone can borrow a book, perhaps more than one to read. Just like any book you open the cover and learn what is inside the book. What is different in the Human Library Organization is the books are people and the readers are people. For thirty magnificent minutes a human reader is allowed to ask a human book any question they want. The human book is a person who defies a stereotype. All questions are allowed as long as the reader is respectful towards the book. It is a simple, magical moment in time. A chance to learn more about someone different from you in a safe space. To build connections and lessen divides.

There are no strangers here. Only friends you have not met yet.” William Butler Yeats

Last Saturday I participated in my first Human Library experience. This was a zoom event and for two hours I would be reading two different human books. Once I signed in on my zoom link for the event the magic began. Our head librarian gave explicit instructions asking us all to modify our names during the event to add our location. This was a global event with human readers from Indiana to India and locations all over the world. The welcoming manner created a safe and warm environment.  Input as to why people were participating was asked to help learn why people had come to read the human books. Instructions were explicit and informative. There is a code of honor confidentiality agreement in these events to not share information about the name or what stereotype our book represented outside of this moment. No notes are to be taken and no recordings are to occur. As I looked at the sea of faces from all over the world I knew we were all in for a special experience. The magic was about to begin.

When we stop judging others, and ourselves, our heart begins to open.” Swami Dhyan Giten

I was assigned to a zoom room with three other human readers. We had time before our book was available to say hello and get to know one another. These strangers quickly became partners in the journey of learning. Our first book was warm and candid, bringing an openness and authenticity about her lived experiences. I felt comfortable asking any question and learned information from the questions my fellow readers were asking. I was a part of a connected community, sharing this learning experience with people I felt I had known forever. The thirty minutes we had to read our book flew by and sadly the reading came to an end. During the reading occasionally a librarian would enter our room to see if we needed any help, which felt comforting.  After our reading ended my fellow readers and I were able to process this experience for a few moments before our next book entered the room. Another human book with different lived experiences once again freely answering all questions we asked. Both books were non-defensive and open about their lived experiences. Freely sharing information and intimate details about their lives and experiences. Giving us readers a peek inside who they are. As they talked, and as my fellow readers asked questions, what I saw is as human beings we have so much in common. The need to be loved, respected, and safe in our own individual ways.  To share our thoughts, feelings, dreams, and desires and to be accepted for who we are. How our personal judgements hurt others and cause harm to us as well, creating more divisions and less connections. When we take the risk of stretching ourselves and go outside our comfort zone all of us become richer for it. 

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” Marshall McLuhan

Fellow humans participate in a Human Library Organization event. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Their webpage and facebook page have information to sign up for this amazing, free experience. You will be welcomed into a safe space to learn about someone you otherwise might never talk to. By unjudging someone you can learn to unjudge yourself, making all of us the better for it.  

Here is information on the awesome Human Library Organization:

Website: https://humanlibrary.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/humanlibraryorg/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thehumanlibrary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/humanlibraryorganization/