Skip to main content

College News

Patrons Get to Experience People Who Take Place of Books

Patrons Get to Experience People Who Take Place of Books

NORFOLK, Neb. -- Sometimes a book requires a person to read a lot of information before obtaining the knowledge one seeks.

The Human Library isn’t like that. It cuts to the chase scene almost immediately, allowing patrons to ask about what interests them most. 

For the first time, Northeast Community College hosted a Human Library on Tuesday, April 9. In short, it is like a library where humans serve as books. 

Patrons could go to a booth in the Upper Level of Union 73 and check out a variety of topics. Once they found one that interested them, they walked to a private area and spent 30 minutes with a human expert, mostly asking questions about the topic they were seeking information about. 

Jen Ippensen, Northeast director of Library Service, helped to make arrangements for the Human Library to come to Northeast. 

“This is the first time that I have been involved in the Human Library organization, and as far as we know, this is the first time this event has been held in the Norfolk area,” Ippensen said. 

“The turnout has been tremendous,” Ippensen said about halfway through the three-hour event on Tuesday afternoon. A similar event was scheduled for that evening at the Norfolk Public Library. 

“We’ve had many books on loan and many books on hold, so we do have people waiting for the next available book,” Ippensen said.  

All the books were volunteers with personal experience in their topic. The Human Library is designed to host personal conversations that can challenge stereotypes. 

One of the topics, for example, was a female master plumber. Other books were more serious, such as alcoholic, domestic abuse survivor or bipolar. 

“Our female master plumber is the first one in Nebraska – ever. Then other individuals, for example, might have the personal experience and then they are sharing what they know, or what they have learned,” Ippensen said. “We don’t expect anyone to speak on behalf of all people who might fit under that title, but they’re sharing what their experience has been.” 

The Human Library began in 2000. Many of those taking part in the 30-minute segments said the time went by quickly. A person came around to each book five minutes before it was to end to help wrap up conversations.  

Free T-shirts were given to the first 50 attendees. 

Human Library cutline 

Jen Ippensen, director of Northeast library services, moves one of the topics of the books that was “on loan” Tuesday, April 9, at the Upper Level of Union 73 on the Norfolk campus. (Northeast Community College)