Posted on January 13, 2011 by Tia Lalani

The augustana human library: centenary edition is the Augustana Campus Library’s contribution to Augustana’s Centenary.

Last year, hundreds of people took a Human Book out of the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus Library in Camrose. These books – these people, and more with stories of their own – will be returning to the Augustana Human Library (formerly Living Library) from February 6-8 and 13-15, to be available for coffee and conversation with “Readers”.

Their subjects will include being transgendered, suffering physical abuse as a young woman in the 21st Century, the complicated life of a married lesbian, the grieving family of a victim of suicide, and atheism. Sharing time with people who have experienced prejudice or stereotyping in life becomes a rare learning opportunity for everyone.

Crisp, dry leaves crunching underfoot is how I remember it. Walking toward campus along the newly-paved laneway, the vault of autumn’s rich blue skies were held aloft by golden-leaved columns. Everything seemed balanced between one thing and the next, yet everything was poised for change: the excitement was palatable. As I continued along the sometimes treacherous boardwalks, I passed between two boys, one of them kitted in an ear-flapped hat, short pants and long stockings with leather shoes. I still remember his grin as he pulled back his arm, launching his football to a friend, both of them the very picture of 1911 students.
Like that football, being part of Augustana was like being launched into skies unknown. Sometimes clear, sometimes cloudy, yet nearly always turbulent with potential, Augustana shaped me in ways I could never have imagined. Now, when I look back through the dusty pages of my long-neglected yearbook, the photographs from that autumn back in 1986–when we celebrated our little college achieving the ripe old age of 75–I remain astounded at the quiet girl’s transformation into the uppity man he is today.
Wait–a girl? But this was a story about boys, wasn’t it? Like all good stories, mine is one full of unexpected twists, turns, ripples, dead ends, red herrings, and even the occasional dash of derring-do. Augustana’s Human Library showcases an abundance of stories, including mine.
Jan Lukas Buterman, alumnus, 1986-1992

The augustana human library: centenary edition is the Augustana Campus Library’s contribution to Augustana’s Centenary. To celebrate, the Library will offer 100 “reads” of Human Books: one read for each of Augustana’s 100 years. Further information and a schedule will be available online.

Other reads include wrestling with substance abuse, depression and the adult perspective of being sexually abused as a child. Consider an environmental debate over conventional vs. organic land practices or discuss economic stress and its effects on marriage and family on the farm.

From adoption and male feminism to the raising of an autistic child, Human Books not only put a human face to prejudice and stereotypes, but they might challenge people to think differently, or even to support and advocate more accepting and supportive environments for all.

Posted in Annual theme, Centenary. | Permalink

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