The original Human Library was organized in Denmark in 2000 in response to a violent hate crime. The movement blossomed, and today there are Human Libraries in over 100 countries around the world.
Our mission? Engage the public in conversations about equality, diversity, and human rights, with the goals of reducing tension and violence and increasing social cohesion.
Organized completely by volunteers, human libraries are events modeled after traditional libraries where visitors check out a range of titles. The difference is that ‘books’ are people, and ‘reading’ is a conversation. The Human Library of the Fox Valley, an initiative of the recently incorporated not-for-profit Fox Valley Face-to-Face, was founded by FVFTF board members Jennifer DuBose, Cara Schuster, and Mary Swanson and is endorsed by the Human Library Organization based in Denmark. We're partnering with local volunteers from traditionally marginalized groups, human ‘books,’ to create safe, free opportunities for ‘readers’ to better understand those with whom they share their communities, during 1:1 conversations lasting up to 30 minutes.
We're challenging prejudice, one book at a time. Our world faces curious challenges, tensions, and devastating humanitarian crises born of our perceived differences.
This is our response.
Cara is excited about this project because work on her Master’s thesis for her degree in Liberal Studies included an activity not unlike a Human Library event, in that she brought together students from different backgrounds to create a play based on their personal experiences. In the end, her students discovered that they had more in common than they’d realized, and thus the stereotypes they’d held about each other were deconstructed. Today Cara works as a Reading Specialist in the Batavia Public Schools, is involved in local theater, and volunteers her time as a Board Trustee for the public library in Batavia where she resides with her family.
Jennifer has been a freelance storyteller for many years and currently pens the column “Tales from the Motherhood,” which has appeared weekly in the Kane County Chronicle since 2009. An active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she is also a Licensed Family Therapist, a bereavement volunteer for Fox Valley Hands of Hope, and a literacy tutor at the Illinois Youth Center. She enjoys helping others to make meaning of their own stories, and has seen what can happen when people go a step further and share their stories with each other — hearts can be touched and minds can be opened. She believes that to really know someone is to love them, and that Human Libraries have the potential to change the world, one encounter at a time. Jennifer lives in Batavia with her family.
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From the moment Mary heard about Fox Valley Face-to-Face and our Human Library project, she wanted to be involved. She is excited about the opportunity to help break down stereotypes and promote the dignity and worth of every person.
Mary has degrees in Accounting and Finance, is a small business owner, and lives in Geneva, IL with her family. We are thrilled she has agreed to serve FVFTF as our Treasurer!