Build a Human Library: DIY 2018 CLA Conference Presentation. fairfield University's Jacalyn Kremer, Barbara Ghilardi, & student Justine Ferrara

What is the Human Library?

Why Fairfield? Why Now?

Planning the Event


4 months before - Decide on subcommittee involvement, finalize dates & times

3 months before - Create website, begin recruitment

2 months before - Ramp up book recruitment, process first submissions, begin in-person meetings, begin updating website.

1 month before - Continue in-person meetings, design & order t-shirts, nail down volunteer times & assignments.

Month of Event - Workshop stories, meet with books again if necessary, finish day-of materials and host the event!

Our Partners

Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Campus Ministry, The Writing Center, Student Engagement, Residence Life, Media Relations, Academic Affairs, Marketing and Communications, Web Communications, The Center for Faith and Public Life, Curriculum and Instruction, Counseling & Psychological Services, Faculty from various academic departments

Book Recruitment

Committee members attended events to spread awareness about the event

11 Sequels, Faculty E-mails, Club Leader E-mails, Committee Member Personal Asks, Handouts, Postcards, Digital Boards, Social Media, Word-of-Mouth

Book Preparation

  • One-on-one in-person meetings
  • Story crafting
  • Collecting information for program/website
  • Writing Center Workshop - plans to change for next year
  • One week before: reminder e-mail/Book Training Manual

Reader Recruitment

Digital Boards, Faculty E-mails, Club Leader E-mails, Social Media, Word-of-Mouth

Social Media Presence

We advertised on our blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and Fairfield U's Instagram Stories ahead of time
We designed a Snapchat geofilter to be used by anyone in the library on the day of the event

Executing the Event


Laminated programs, table tent with first name & title, buttons and T-shirts


  • 30 minutes early
  • Received t-shirt & handout
  • Briefed again - given directions on where the conversations would be taking place
  • Committed to at least 2 hours

Our checkout board

The importance of snacks (and breaks)

We had a break room with snacks and water if books needed to relax


  • Briefed on how the event would go
  • Reminded to remain respectful
  • Could put a hold on a book
  • Question sheet


35 volunteers: library staff, student workers, planning committee

  • Set up/Break down
  • Break Room Monitor
  • Lobby Greeters
  • Line Coordinators
  • Line Monitors
  • Book Check-Out
  • Conversation Floaters
  • Reader Assessment Room Monitors
  • Social Media Directors


41 Human Books

Role in Community: 72% undergrads, 12% faculty, 17% staff

Gender: 73% female, 22% male, 5% prefer not to answer

Book: "I made revelations about myself during this experience. I realized ways in which stereotypes were affecting me that I had never thought about before."

100% of books agreed or strongly agreed that "Through my conversations, I feel I opened the readers' eyes to other experiences, perspectives, and worldviews they were unaware of before"

Book: "My most important take away is to keep the dialogue open and be fearless in sharing my story."

Over 500 Readers

Attendees: 98% undergraduate students, 1% graduate students, 1% faculty

Gender: 58% female, 41% male, 1% prefer not to answer

Reader: "Sometimes it feels like I am the only person that has been through certain things, but the conversation today helped to reaffirm that there are other people that understand."

95% of readers agreed or strongly agreed that "Through my conversations, my eyes were opened to other experiences, perspectives, and worldviews that I was unaware of before."

Reader: "I learned that your social identity is what you see yourself as and not what others see you as. The most important take away is to hear what other people have to say about themselves before you make judgements about them"

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