HEAR MY STORY — Patrons of KHCPL will be able to check out humans this Friday. 
Herald Photo / Provided
HEAR MY STORY — Patrons of KHCPL will be able to check out humans this Friday. Herald Photo / Provided

Soon at the Kokomo Howard County Public Library, patrons will be renting out their fellow man in order to learn about different walks of life.

On Friday, Oct. 6, the KHCPL will host its first Human Library where, in lieu of books, event-goers will rent people from vastly different backgrounds in order to hold a 20-minute, educational conversation. The goal, according to KHCPL Director of Marketing and Community Engagement Lisa Fipps, is to allow people to better understand different lifestyles and life experiences.

The event will function much like renting a book from a library, said Fipps. She said about 20 “books,” or in this case 20 people with varying backgrounds, ranging from “Catholic convert to Judaism” and “trans male college student” to “foster child to homeless woman” and “Mexican immigrant to small business owner,” will be available to speak with during the event. Each individual, carrying a different life experience, will then be rented to event-goers so that they can have a conversation with whomever rents them. “Books” from all walks of life who have experienced discrimination based on race, religion, sexual preference, class, gender identity, sex, age, lifestyle choices, disability, and other aspects of life will be present.

“You check out the book, and you go find a quiet place to sit,” said Fipps. “We’ll have some stations around. Instead of reading the book like you would a regular book, you ask questions and just have conversations.”

Fipps explained that the goal of the event is to foster conversations that might break down prejudices and help people garner a better understanding of one another.

“For example, if you want to sit down and talk to the foster child who became homeless, the woman who became homeless, you can ask her, ‘Explain how that happened,’” said Fipps. “Because you might wonder, ‘How does a foster child become homeless? Did they not give you skills to help you find a job when you get out? How does that work? Did they not give you transition time when they gave you housing between being a foster child and being on your own? Are you out the door when you’re 18?’ It’s just so people can better understand what it’s like to live that life.”

During the conversations, Fipps said the library also expects renters to respect the “book.”

“This is not the time to come if you disagree with immigration. This is not the time to come in and berate the person for immigrating to America,” said Fipps. “This is the time to understand, ‘How did you do that, and why did you do that? Why would you want to leave your own country and go to another country?’ It’s just to understand each other because a lot of times we have these preconceived ideas of what another person’s life is like when we haven’t even seen their shoes, let alone walked in them ... It’s all about bridging that gap of misunderstanding and making it a safer place for everybody to live and more harmony and so forth.”

According to a release from the library, the practice of a Human Library started in Denmark in 2000 and since then has spread to be presented in more than 70 countries.

The KHCPL will host its Human Library on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the KHCPL Main as part of the October First Friday. While this is the library’s first Human Library, Fipps said that more could be hosted in the future.

To see how exactly Human Libraries work, click here to watch one in action.