Launched in 2012 as a Gaudino Fund initiative, the Williams Human Library provided an opportunity for members of the local community (both within and beyond campus) to see the world through other people’s eyes. Part of an international project, the Human Library consisted of two days each year during which people volunteered to be living books, sharing their unique stories in one-on-one conversations with ‘readers’.
Williams Human Library has been a resounding success, connecting over 200 living-books with nearly one thousand readers. Participants (books and readers alike) reported having had deep, meaningful conversations with a long lasting and transformative impact. Beyond the event itself, the planning process for the annual Human Library was a catalyst for community engagement, as the planning committee identified themes to be included as books, and worked with local schools and community organizations. As one of the first living libraries in the U.S., the Williams Human Library provided opportunities to connect with other colleges, universities and libraries around the country who aspired to organize such event.
While the Williams Human Library project will remain one of the college’s signature programs, it is time to explore new ways to engage our community. The values of the Human Library of confronting stereotypes through personal engagement will continue through other new and upcoming Gaudino initiatives.
We wish to thank the many people who made the Williams Human Library a vibrant and engaging program: the living books who donated their time and bravely shared their stories; the readers who embraced the experience; the volunteers who made the event possible; the Williamstown Elementary School 6th grades teachers and students who enthusiastically participated every year; the Williams Library for embracing this concept from the onset; the dedicated Human Library planning group who organized the event, and the past two Gaudino Scholars: professor Magnus Bernhardsson who had the vision for the project, and professor Lois Banta who oversaw it for four years.
We hope that the values of the Human Library will continue to resonate within and beyond the Williams community.
Click here for the 2018 List of Books