Life as a Book – Part 2

This past weekend, I was once again a book in the Human Library. (You can read about the first round and my story here.) This time, it was a collaborative event between U of R’s Rush Rhees Library and Rochester’s Central Library downtown.

We set up in the main hall of the Rundel building, the old part of Central, and the space was gorgeous. (All of the wood, is beautifully figured – this pic doesn’t quite do it justice.)

It was a superb time. The event was a perfect example of how sharing stories breaks down barriers and strengthens the community. It’s had great media coverage, including an article the other day in the New York Daily News that included the quotes below:

Shauna Marie O’Toole, a Human Book whose title was “You Can’t Shave in a Minimart Bathroom,” said: “I think the Human Library project is something that breaks down barriers and rips away differences from something that’s strange, unacceptable or bizarre.

“When we understand the stories, there’s more acceptance, and with more understanding, there’s a prosperous society. That’s why this project is so important. That’s why I’m so honoured to be a part of it.”


Aprille Byam, a Human Book titled “Connected Wonder Woman,” said: “It’s been great — reaffirming. Sharing my story again and seeing people’s responses to how I moved forward as a result of what happened has been cool.”

More valuable than telling my story was the interaction with my readers. Their responses helped me to see some things that I had lost sight of in the telling and retelling. They came away with grins and some more wonder of their own.

All of my readers had one shared comment about my story – they said it with caution, as they were concerned they might offend: “It really was a blessing in disguise” – and this really hit home (although I would never wish the experience again on Joel and my family). It also confirmed that my title is appropriate, as the wonder spurs the work on connections and the connections continue to grow the wonder.

There will be more Libraries in the future. I highly encourage you to come and try one – plan on a bit of time so that you can “read” a couple of the fascinating books they’ll include. Just another awesome example of storytelling’s power in our community. One I’m so glad to have been part of.

PS – Rundel is haunted, too!


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