Becky Kimmel

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Tomorrow afternoon, Murray Library will come alive when paper books are temporarily replaced by living ones.

How, you ask? Why, through the living stories you pass everyday.

Let me introduce you to an event called The Human Library, where 18 students, faculty and staff will become human books for the day, sharing their personal stories with readers, aka you.

Each book will tell their story in small group sessions from 1-5 PM tomorrow, in various locations throughout the library. You can sign up here for one of the 25 minute time-slots of the “book” or “books” you would like to hear.

The Human Library program has appeared on other college campuses throughout the nation, and is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can work to challenge stereotypes and prejudices through open dialogue.

Todd Allen, professor of Communication, special assistant to the President and provost for Diversity Affairs, first heard about this project a year ago and was instantly intrigued by the idea of people bridging their perceived differences through story-telling.

“When I arrived at Messiah College last summer, I would hear echoes of this project in conversations with colleagues. [People] would say how important it is that we learn to listen to the stories of others [and] better understand their unique experiences and perspectives,” Allen said.

It was then that he knew this event was something Messiah needed.

This is an opportunity for everyone on campus to better get to know their classmates, professors or fellow faculty members, in a way that also strives to instill the importance of open listening and honest reflection.

“Life has taught me that there is power in the stories of others and that as we learn to listen, engage and share our stories, we can move one step closer to being reconciled,” Allen said.

To learn more about each book and their story, visit the Messiah College Human Library website.

The event will end with a closing reception at 4:45 in the library Athenaeum.