People replace books in upcoming Downers Grove library program

Partnership with The Human Library examines prejudices, need for diversity


Books won’t just come alive, they will be living and breathing in a future Downers Grove Public Library program.

Instead of physical books, actual people will be on loan for conversations. The partnership with The Human Library aims to create a safe space for conversation in which topics involving marginalization or stigmatization can be openly addressed without condemnation.

During the program, the people serving as “books” have directly or indirectly been exposed to prejudice, bias or discrimination based on aspects of their race, religion, sexual orientation, class, gender identity or disability.

The library will host the program from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 16.

The library is seeking individuals to participate in the program. Anyone applying should know that participating involves becoming vulnerable and sharing personal stories. Anyone interested is strongly encouraged to consider their own health before applying. After all applications are reviewed, selected candidates will be contacted for an interview.

“This is the first time the Downers Grove Public Library is participating in The Human Library and we’re thrilled to have been approved and chosen to be able to bring this to the community,” Cindy Khatri, the library’s marketing and communications manager said in an email.

“The Human Library is a safe space for dialogue and curiosity through personal conversations,” she said. “Volunteers who are open books engage in personal and honest conversations to help combat prejudice and judgment based on stereotypes that society assigns. Human Library encourages people to unjudge someone.”

If selected, volunteers must complete online training with The Human Library. A computer and/or space to complete the training is available upon request.

Anyone willing to train to share their experiences and who would like to volunteer for the program must submit a registration form by May 22.

“The application process to bring this program to the library is actually a long one. We’ve been working on it for quite some time and were finally approved in January,” Khatri said. “Our adult program coordinator heard that a local community college had participated in the program previously and it had a huge impact on their students.”

The Human Library Organization is a registered international not-for-profit with headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, where it was created in the spring of 2000, according to it website.

The Human Library is a learning platform. Its mission is to improve the understanding of diversity in order to help create more inclusive and cohesive communities across cultural, religious, social and ethnic differences.

“The Downers Grove Public Library has a mission of welcoming all to discover, grow, play and learn, so this program fits right in. We’re excited for our community to have the opportunity to meet and grow with each other,” Khatri said.

For more information, contact or visit The Human Library’s website at