Norlin Library will host the campus’s first “living library” on March 1, an interactive inaugural event featuring the stories of students, staff and faculty who will engage with visitors or “readers” who want to “borrow” living books for impactful conversations about gender, race, nationality, religion, ability and beyond.
The CU Living Library: Dialoguing Difference will provide participants and library visitors with opportunities to engage with one another around personal stories and journeys in a supportive environment that encourages questions and open-mindedness, said organizers Megan Welsh, Juleah Swanson and Lindsay Roberts.
In order to participate in the event as books, a group of 14 CU Boulder community members—students, staff and faculty—submitted book titles and descriptions to pique the interest of readers.
“I got involved with the living library because, in knowing that what we are as human beings is the summation of an infinite number of stories and experiences, I thought it important to offer up an oration of my own existence, with its tolls and rewards, in the hopes of affirming others’ sense of self,” said Gwendalynn Roebke, 19, a sophomore from Colorado Springs who is double majoring in astrophysics and philosophy and self identifies as gender nonconforming and uses the pronouns they and them.
The living “books”—people who are willing to share stories about their lives and diverse personal backgrounds—and small groups of “readers” will engage in conversations that will allow students and the campus community to learn about themselves and others through authentic dialogue.
Book titles include Coming Out Overseas, the story of one individual’s transformational experience while studying in Japan; Semester One, a story about overcoming addiction; Twelve Words to a Twelve-Year-Old about suicide and its effects on others; and Chronicles of a “Never Enough” Kid, a story about living with multiple personal identities.
In choosing to participate in this event, Isabel Vigil, 18, a first-year student from Aurora who is majoring in clinical psychology and political science, said she wanted to “show others that whatever adversity they have faced or are facing, they will get through it and come out stronger than ever—just as I did.”
The Living Library event is open to all students, staff, faculty and community members and will be held in Norlin Library’s circulation study area from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 1.