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UMF challenges stereotypes with Human Library Project event

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FARMINGTON - What if in addition to the knowledge contained in books, a library offered the knowledge of human experience shared in-person by the people who lived it? That is the idea behind the 'Human Library' project, an event that will be held at the University of Maine at Farmington Mantor Library onApril 7 and 8, 2016. The event is free and open to the public.

A worldwide movement, the Human Library is designed to build a positive framework for informal conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. On each day of the UMF event, individuals volunteering as 'human books' can be 'checked out' from9 a.m.-noon, or 2-4 p.m., for 20-30 minutes where they will share their stories with library patrons interested in learning more about the participant's chosen topic.

More than 25 UMF students, campus and community members have volunteered to share their unique perspectives, one-on-one, and give the reader a chance to learn from their life experience. The human book topics include: the international student experience, an environmentalist with post-traumatic stress disorder, old Maine fishing camps, living with Asperger's Syndrome, young women who wear the hijab and more.

This event is inspired by the Mantor Library 'On Our Minds' reading program and this year's theme 'Your Story Matters.' Its goal is to help people feel comfortable connecting through personal dialogue and to understand that everyone's story has value.

'We are thrilled to be able to bring this program to the library community,' said Vaughan Gagne, manager of administrative services at UMF Mantor Library. 'Knowledge opens our minds and challenges our assumptions, and in our world of technology, this program humanizes what a library means to all of us.'

During the event, library patrons will be able to sign out a living book and their story with a special Human Library Card created for the program. Over a course of approximately 30 minutes readers will have the opportunity to listen to the participant's story and ask questions that will help inform their understanding of the topic.

The Human Library originated in Copenhagen in 2000 as a project for the Roskilde Festival to help prevent violence, encourage dialogue and build positive relations.

Last modified on Tuesday, 29 March 2016 17:11

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