Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

On Tuesday March 21, Le Moyne College held an event sponsored by the Noreen Reale Falcone Library and the Office of Multicultural Affairs called, “The Human Library: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover.”

The event involved participants “renting” out a person from a Human Book List to listen and ask questions about their individual experiences.  

Human Books are checked out and talk about their personal experiences, challenges they’ve overcome, or their struggles with stereotypes. By checking out a “book,” visiting “readers” engage in a 20-minute dialogue with a “book” of their choosing.

Assistant Librarian and co-leader of the event, Inga Barnello, focuses on the importance of the program’s ability to break away from social prejudices, in which participants can experience the point of view of others in a safe and open environment.

“This is a movement that breaks down prejudices and stereotypes just by getting two people to sit down and talk to each other,” said Barnello. “These conversations can range from telling a story that you were sexually abused or how you have been treated as a minority. However, they are not all about upsetting situation. Some stories are about how people became successful and want to share their stories and influence others.”

The Human Library was stocked with the help of volunteers, ranging from students to faculty members. “The importance here isn’t about teaching someone how to do something, but rather to experience dialogue with one another,” said Barnello continues. “It’s really to get you to walk in somebody else’s shoes.”

This is the first time Le Moyne College has participated in a Human Library. Other colleges such as Syracuse University have put on similar events. Barnello explained that one of the main reasons for holding the event was because of students driving through campus with the Confederate flags during a silent protest following the election of President Trump.

“This was kind of a reaction to that course of events and we just really want to try to create an event with a lot of diversity,” said Barnello.

The event started with a reading from the Human Book List, in which a small excerpt is written about each of the individuals. Once the participants chose a “book,” they were then introduced to the individual sharing their story and had a 20-minute discussion about the topic described.

After the discussion, people were able to speak with a “Book Depot” to discuss the conversation they had and how it went. Participants were also encouraged to fill out a survey to rate the event and add any additional comments they had.

The Human Book List Titles:

  • A Night in Tunisia
  • Cultivating a Rose
  • Open Book: Ask me Anything
  • Diversity from Within: It’s all Relative(s)!
  • Embracing the Imposter Within
  • I Take my Tea Seriously. Hear the Voice Behind the Hijab
  • Now I Know ‘Why the Caged Bird Sings’
  • Started From the Bottom. Now I’m Here