Human Library Brings Books To Life

Students had the unique opportunity to ask books questions during the Human Library event at Coulter Library. People played the role of “books,” sharing their personal stories with students in one-on-one or small group settings.

Pauline Lynch Shostack (left) and Angela Weiler (right) organize the event.

Pauline Lynch Shostack (left) and Angela Weiler (right) organize the event.

This was the third year the College hosted the event. “It’s grown each year in a number of ways,” said Pauline Lynch Shostack, Chair of OCC’s Coulter Library. “We had more students signing up for the event in advance, more human books participating, more volunteers working and longer hours for the event. It’s exciting how popular it has become.” Shostack and Angela Weiler, a Reference and Instruction Librarian, organized the event.

A huge schedule and list of books covers a wall in Coulter Library.

A huge schedule and list of books covers a wall in Coulter Library.

The Human Library was held on the third floor. Volunteers at a registration table greeted “books” and “readers” as they arrived. The wall behind the registration table was covered with a massive schedule of sessions and complete listing of all of the books. Volunteers worked to piece everything together and keep the schedule running on-time.

Rooms throughout the remainder of the floor were filled with colorful and informative conversations, and some visual presentations as well. Christine Braunberger, an English/Reading/Communication Professor, was the human book, “Stories in the Flesh: Tattoo in America.” Braunberger and student Cody Watson discussed each other’s tattoos. Watson is a student-veteran who served a year in Afghanistan while stationed at Fort Drum. “It was great to speak with her. She had an instant understanding of my tattoos and their origin,” said Watson.

Student Arlene Brodbeck, who is majoring in Communications, made an appointment with the book, “93Q Radio Personality.” The book was Amy Robbins who has been a staple in the Syracuse radio scene for more than a quarter of a century. “It was a wonderful experience to hear how she started and to understand there’s a lot more to her day than just talking on the radio,” said Brodbeck. “She told me the way to get started in the business is to get your foot in the door somewhere with an internship.”

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Student Nick Swan, a Computer Information Systems major, was inspired by his book “Syracuse Firefighter.” Swan’s conversation with firefighter Patrick Foody left him pondering his career options. “It was amazing. It really opened my eyes. I didn’t know much about firefighting but now I’m considering a career in it.”

The Human Library is made possible in large part thanks to the event’s sponsors: OCC Foundation, Student Association, Diversity Services and American Food & Vending.

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