As published in the Red Rock News
In just two days, the Human Books will speak at Sedona Public Library. Are you open-minded enough to listen? I know that we often think we are open-minded and judgement free. But are we? Think about those times when we encounter someone that puts us a little “on guard,” makes us just a bit uncomfortable, or disagrees with one of our fundamental beliefs? If this has ever happened to you, I invite you to spend Sunday morning at the Sedona Human Library.
We all know stereotypes exist—of course they do! I am often told that I don’t seem like a librarian because, as we all know, librarians are the quiet sort of people, wearing their hair in a tight bun and looking over their bifocals with stern eyes as they put their finger to their lips and say “Shhhhhh!” But are they? Many of the librarians I know are tattooed, have a healthy love of craft brews, do not own bifocals or wear buns, and they are some of the most outgoing, gregarious, and loudest, people I’ve ever met. So how do we change our stereotypical perceptions? How do we shift our thinking?
Sunday’s Sedona Human Library is a perfect place to begin. The Human Library is about dissolving the differences that separate people and discovering a connection with, and an understanding of, the people who are different than we are. In its fifth year, I am willing to bet that this local (yet international) event will surprise you. I also believe it will challenge and delight you, and that you will be glad you attended. I hope you’ll join us.
You, the “Reader” (Listener) of the Human Book, will hear the backstory of someone who has been stereotyped—dismissed, diminished, and distanced—because of the pre-judgements or “stuck” perceptions others hold about them. As our Human Books share their stories, we believe you will become more aware of your own judgements that may have been lurking in your background. Simply by listening with an open mind/heart, it’s very possible that a transformation—an ah-ha! moment may occur, and you will see these humans in a new and more understanding way.
Some past Readers have remarked, “When I sat with the Transman Book, I realized it was difficult to believe that he had been a woman, and my mind blew open as he shared his story about losing custody of a child when he was a woman, and then gaining it back as a man.” Another Reader said, “I always thought that someone who was homeless was desolate, hopeless, and irresponsible until I met the Human Book titled ‘Homeless Preferred.’”
Regarding political beliefs, a past Reader stated, “I had no idea how much hate I had toward a Democrat turned Republican until I heard the Human Book’s story of what she endured from lifelong friends when they publicly shamed her for her political shift. I now have much greater tolerance for political discussions than before, when I used to just shut down and dismiss those in a political party different than my own.”
Interestingly, just as the Readers have grown and changed through their Human Library experiences, the Books often remark that they feel “heard and healed” by these touching events. Many have not yet shared their story publicly and have noted that they truly appreciate the safe environment the Library offered them.
We need this event now like never before. As Readers ask questions to gain understanding of what it was like to live the life the Human Book has lived, the Books discover remarkable things about themselves, and healing happens for both. The conversations are lively and often quite thoughtful. The most common comments we receive on our surveys are along the line of these: “I wish I could have read more Human Books” and “I wish you did this more often!”
Please join us for this event at Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sunday, September 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. While preselection of Books has closed, you are still welcome to join the event by coming to the Rush line. You must arrive by 9:45 a.m. when we will match you, based on availability, with a Human Book. You’ll have the chance to read three books at this free event.
Please visit sedonahumanlibrary.org for more information about all the Human Books and the event. You can also register for the Rush line at sedonahumanlibrary2021.eventbrite.com.
I invite you to change your mind, open your heart, and help transform our community. You’ll be glad you did.
The Sedona Human Library is sponsored by Sedona International City of Peace, Rotary Club of Sedona, the City of Sedona, and Sedona Public Library.
Sedona Public Library
Column for September 17, 2021
Written by Judy Poe, Library Director, Sedona Public Library
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.