Back in January of 2017, Mary Beth Lock, Director of Access Services at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. asked if we had ever considered doing a Human Library event at ZSR, and at the same time, we learned that Elon University hosted a Human Library event each year during their January term. This got the Outreach team thinking that the time was right for such an event at ZSR.  By March 2017, the Provost’s Office announced the “Rethinking Community” grant program, and we decided to see if Winston Salem State’s O’Kelly Library would be willing to team up with the ZSR Library and host a Human Library at Wake Downtown! Fortunately for us, Wanda Brown, Director of Library Services, agreed to partner on the event!

While the grant proposal was under review, we reached out to Alana James, Associate Director, Engagement for Wake Downtown and WFBMC at Wake Forest University, and before long we had a plan to pilot the Human Library at the ZSR Library in the Fall of 2017 and host a joint event with WSSU at Wake Downtown in Spring 2018.

At 3 pm on Friday, March 23rd, over a year of planning resulted in an awesome Human Library event at Wake Downtown! We had shuttles running from both campuses to Wake Downtown and almost 90 students from both schools signed in at the event! We had 14 “books” for people to choose from! By 6 pm our readers were done and our volunteers were exhausted, but pleased with the conversations that occurred!

This event was truly a team effort! Wanda Brown, Forrest Foster, and Heather Davis from WSSU were all amazing partners, and the team at Wake Downtown, Alana James, Rebecca Alexander, and Amanda Tingle made it possible for us to use this awesome new space! Our volunteers from ZSR, Meghan Webb, Kaeley McMahan, Kristen Morgan, Kelsey Urgo, Mary Beth Lock, Susan Smith, and Dean Tim Pyatt were also key to making the event run smoothly! Kim McGrath helped us get the word out about the event, and we also had a wonderful group of ZSR Student Ambassadors helping with the event, and Isaac from Alma Mexicana kept the food and beverages coming till we ran out!

Rather than list all 14 of the wonderful people who volunteered to serve as books for the event, I’d like to encourage you to check out the website where you can follow a link to their book descriptions and learn more about what was discussed at the event! Also, please check out Ken Bennett’s photos, and Susan Smith’s photos from Human Library. Additionally, here is a link to the WFDD story on the event, and a link to the article from the student newspaper, the Old Gold & Black. I hope this is just one of many collaborations to come with WSSU and Wake Downtown!