Community Gathers for Human Library

On Tuesday, February 19, educators and community members gathered at Pawling Middle School for the third annual Human Library Project. The event, a joint venture between the Pawling Central School District (PCSD) and the Pawling Library, featured volunteers as “books” who shared their stories and life experiences with “readers” from the school district and surrounding area.

This year, the Human Library surpassed expectations, with a total of 69 different “books" available for attendants to choose from. Topics included presentations from educators, local business owners, and community members, each with their own unique story to tell. “Readers” signed up for twenty-minute sessions, and learned about vermiculture, marketing strategies, screenwriting and much more. “We were blown away by the wonderful collection of books this year,” said Pawling Library Director Brian Avery. “I would like to thank everyone who participated as either a book or a reader for their contributions to the many interesting conversations that took place at this year’s Pawling Human Library Project.”

The event included many returning “books,” but also welcomed a slew of new participants with fresh stories and topics. Among them was Jim Costigan, who constructed Pawling’s Hobbit House, located on Wilkinson Hollow Road. “It was a very enjoyable event, and it was nice to get positive feedback about the house,” said Costigan. “It was also nice for me to read another person’s book. I’m really glad I had a chance to participate as a book and as a reader.”

The Human Library Project is designed to enhance connections between the school district and the community by fostering authentic, real-world learning. More than 140 staff members and students from across the district participated as books and readers. In total, more than 200 people attended the event. Among the visitors were representatives from the Ossining Union Free School District, who are hoping to hold a similar event in the future.

Following the event, PCSD officials said they were pleased not only with the attendance, but also the variety of topics and the enthusiasm of all who participated. “The feedback the Steering Committee received confirmed that the Pawling Human Library very successfully addressed all of its goals,” said Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Kim Fontana. “Staff members were inspired as learners, motivated by the format to create new learning experiences for their students, and appreciative of the diversity in the community. For me as an educator, the care and commitment of the community for its schools and its young people, is very gratifying. We couldn’t ask for more.”