“Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.”
~ Joyce Brothers
Three years ago the library began an Undergraduate Diversity Student Program. Over the course of the year, the two selected students work in a variety of locations throughout the library system. Last year’s students, Gabe Tomlin (above) and Alecia Johnson, decided to do something really cool. They organized a Human Library. The Human Library began in 2000 in Denmark. It “is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.” As the name suggests, the books are humans. This year’s students, Javoughn Brown and Vibz Chitkara (below), did some beautiful promotions, and got a wide variety of books on board; a bipolar book, a gay man book, a refugee book, an ADHA book, and so on. Yours truly was the Hillbilly book. Being a Hillbilly is not something especially unique in Kentucky, so I wasn’t expecting to be “checked out.” I got a big surprise. I spent nearly six hours being checked out at today’s Human Library event. I talked to a host of people; a woman from China who told me how culturally similar rural Kentucky reminded her of rural China; two young African-American women who explained “Oreo” to me, a term similar to what East Kentucky folks call “getting above your raising” or acting too good; and a slew of fellow Hillbillies checked me out, a most unexpected but pleasant surprise. It was one of the most enriching days I’ve ever spent. There wasn’t a single person I talked to who didn’t enlighten me about something. I walked away feeling like they gave me far more than I could have ever given them. Some of them hugged me when our time was up, others had emailed me before I got to the car. Kudos to Gabe, Alecia, Vibz, and Javoughn for such a brilliant and brave event. And kudos to the Library’s Diversity Committee for bending over backwards to make the student’s experience with the libraries a success. I’m grateful to have been a small part of such an inspired day.