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NAU Human Library

The Human Library exists to promote dialogue and inclusion towards persons who have experienced prejudice due to how they identify. This guide explains how NAU's Human Library assists in that mission and how faculty and students can participate.

Instructional Opportunities

The Human Library event offers NAU faculty, students, staff, and others several opportunities for instruction and outreach, whether that be within the walls of a formal classroom, or through engaged conversations between family and friends. Take a look at some commonly-asked questions about the Human Library, and consider how this form of empathy-focused programming can benefit the NAU campus community.

"How can I promote the Human Library event to others?" (e.g. students, fellow faculty, friends, community members)

  • Set a tone that promotes diversity and inclusion in the classroom, and an empathetic understanding of other peoples' individual life experiences.
  • Work with your NAU Cline Library subject librarian to obtain updated information and other promotional material that can be distributed in class, as well as amongst your colleagues and friends.
  • Attend an information session, where you can have any of your questions answered.
  • Share our Facebook event.
  • Download and share our fliers (on the left).

"How do I prepare my students who attend the Human Library and what should they expect while there/after? How might follow up discussions be framed?"

  • Encourage students to use empathy as a motivation to dismantle current or previously-held misconceptions of others around them, and help frame the Human Library is an intentional space in which respectful conversation aims to help facilitate this goal.
  • Participants must agree to baseline rules that value respect and compassion for others, as well as understand that conversations may make some feel unsafe and vulnerable, and that an individual's safety is of utmost concern throughout the event.
  • Encourage students who are affected by the event to speak with NAU campus counseling services or a trusted faculty member or mentor.

"How can I most effectively integrate the Human Library into my instruction?"

  • Work with your NAU Cline Library subject librarian on developing an extra-credit (?) assignment whereby students provide pre- and post-event surveys of (1) what they anticipate from the event; and (2) how their expectations were challenged or validated through the experience.

The following is a process for assessing student learning through the Human Library:

Consider having your students take part in the Implicit Attitudes Test (IAT), which tests for implicit and explicit bias.

  • The IAT tests for bias against people who identify by race, gender, age, political affiliation, religion, weight, sexuality, and ability.
  • Students should take at least two tests, and they should try to take tests associated with identities that make them feel uncomfortable biased towards.

Once students have taken the IAT, plan an in-class discussion and ask them to consider their feelings about the test. 

  • Do they feel that it was accurate?
  • Do they think the test was unfair?
  • Do they feel responsible to learn more?

After in-class discussion, students should plan to attend the Human Library and intentionally find a book that they feel bias towards.

  • Students should be able to list five very specific takeaways that they learn from their book; additionally, each takeaway needs to include a corresponding reaction/connection made by the student. The student needs to consider whether the book accurately describes "reality", whether the book is correct about identity, and how the student's views change in response to the book's story/stories.
  • Students will also record their book's identity, and their feelings about that book's identity along a sliding scale:
    • Rate 1 - 5 with 5 being the most extreme
      • Before "reading": I feel uncomfortable around people who are ________________________ (1 2 3 4 5)
      • Before "reading": I feel that people who are ________________________ do not see the world correctly (1 2 3 4 5)
      • After "reading": I feel uncomfortable around people who are ________________________ (1 2 3 4 5)
      • After "reading": I feel that people who are ________________________ do not see the world correctly (1 2 3 4 5)
      • After "reading": ________________________ taught me that people who are ________________________ sometimes have experiences that include:  ________________________________  ___________________________________.
  • Finally, students need to write a one paragraph think piece in which they actively consider how they would respond to discrimination from the perspective of the book they read.

In class, have students share out loud their findings.