Challenge your stereotypes: DeKalb Library launches “Living Books” program

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Meet a Muslim, transgender woman, a blind person and a man who spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. All are speakers in a new “living books” program presented by the DeKalb County Public Library in partnership with Emory University’s IDEAS program.

The Human Library Project kicks off on Monday, Oct. 23, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore Street in downtown Decatur. The free program is offered to all ages.

The Human Library is a place where people are “books on loan” to readers for a chat. The project gives patrons a chance to check out “living books” – real people who speak frankly about life from their point of view – and have a twenty-minute dialogue about that person’s experiences. The program’s purpose is to promote understanding by offering participants the opportunity to “explore the stereotypes and prejudices that separate us, as well as the similarities that connect us,” according to library officials.

“It’s better for us to understand and appreciate one another and have an accurate idea about people who are different from you,” said Janet Florence, who serves as DeKalb County Public Library’s public information officer.

Some other “living books” confirmed to participate at the upcoming event include a police officer, social worker and a pagan. More subjects are being added to the list to reflect our world, library officials said.

Florence said the Human Library idea originated in Denmark and is a worldwide movement for social change. The DeKalb Library plans to make the program a reoccurring event as new participants are added to the roster.

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