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Human library drew large, questioning crowd
Courtney Garza / Staff Writer
UNT students came to Willis Library with open-ended questions and open minds as they checked out “human books” and checked their stereotypes at the door.
The human library concept is designed to have people with varying perspectives – a homosexuals, vegan, African American, feminist and a person with disabilities – sit as books waiting to be “checked out” by “readers,” or students.
The human book is able to have up to four “readers” at a time, as each may ask the book any question about their particular lifestyle, with the intention of stereotypes being broken through conversation.
After researching and organizing the human library event, librarian Diane Wahl stood by to watch as the Tuesday and Wednesday night event from 3-6 p.m. unfold with large attendance.
“We wanted this to be a learning experience for students, to see that they have more in common with people outside of their norm,” Wahl said. “I’m glad to see people coming and are truly interested.”
Wahl made sure to include a diverse selection of books, such as UNT Rehabilitation master’s student Jessica Naert, who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 14, which made her legally blind.
“So many people in the UNT community aren’t aware of what issues or benefits people with disabilities have,” Naert said. “This is a great event to spread awareness for people with disabilities on campus.”
Feminist, homosexual, secular humanist and UNT librarian, Coby Condrey, was a book that participated in both nights of the event where he was able to share his seemingly controversial lifestyle with any inquiring reader.
“I was told to be prepared to share my story and I am very comfortable with who I am, but I was actually pretty nervous about what questions may be asked,” Condrey said. “But that’s what I like about this setting. People ask me surprising questions that I’m able to answer and glad to shed light on what I believe.”
The “readers” were able to get the hands-on experience of learning about these varying perspectives that they couldn’t get from simply reading about them. Sociology senior Kendra Tidwell came to event with much interest and wasn’t disappointed.
“My mom is gay and so I chose to talk to Coby because I thought it would help me better relate to my mother,” Tidwell explains. “I’m glad I came.”