Human Library Returns on February 19

Next year, the Pawling Central School District (PCSD) and the Pawling Library will, once again, partner to present the Human Library Project on Tuesday, February 19, at Pawling Middle School. This will be the third year of the event, which has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from participants and attendees.

The Human Library Project invites volunteers to become “books” so that they may share their life experiences and stories with visitors to the event, also known as “readers.” Books will present to small groups, usually between one and four adults, for twenty minutes. In past years, books have presented on a multitude of topics, including hiking the Appalachian Trail, scientific research methods, photography, parenting, clowning, and presentations from researchers, authors, and other professionals. “It’s impressive to see how much this program has developed and accomplished in just two years,” says Neena McBaer, Children’s Programming Coordinator at Pawling Library. “It has grown in size and scope so quickly, and received so much positive feedback from participants. It is a truly unique networking experience for our community.”

PCSD Superintendent Dr. Bill Ward, who has participated as both reader and a book, adds: “The Human Library demonstrates the many rich resources of our community.”

The goal of the Pawling Human Library Project is to engage PCSD educators with school and community resources. The event supports authentic learning experiences for students by enhancing the connections between schools and the community. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Kim Fontana says, “As a direct result of the Human Library, our students have had more access to community resources and authentic audiences for their work. In addition, our teachers and other educators have made professional and personal connections that have enriched their teaching.”

Normally, Human Library projects are held at larger libraries and institutions. However, Pawling’s iteration has found an impressive following, and has seen more than forty people volunteer as books to tell their stories. The project has also been officially recognized by the International Human Library Organization in Denmark.

The Pawling Central School District and the Pawling Library are expecting an even greater turnout for next year’s Human Library event, and they are beginning the process of enlisting new books for readers to enjoy. “The Pawling Human Library project really highlights the idea that everyone has a story to tell,” explains Pawling Library Director Brian Avery. “Even seemingly undramatic things like deciding to change careers or getting sick while on vacation can give rise to really interesting conversations. Volunteering as a human book not only enables you to share your story with others but also to hear from others whose experiences may be very different from your own.”

Anyone interested in becoming a book to participate in next year’s Human Library Project should contact Pawling Library Director Brian Avery at Volunteers may also register by visiting online.