NSU will introduce Human Library Collection honoring military Sept. 11


NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University will present its first Human Library Collection event Wednesday, Sept. 11 in which panelists will discuss their experiences serving in the military and/or being part of a military family. Sessions will take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when active duty and retired military personnel, along with their families, will offer perspectives on the challenges and rewards of military life. Sessions will take place in the NSU-TV Studio, Kyser Hall Room 138. Guests may attend one or both events.


NSU’s inaugural Human Library Collection event will “be honoring military members  — veterans, active members as well as their dependents because their story is important also,” said Deborah Huntington, head of Collection Development and Cataloging at NSU’s Eugene P. Watson Library.


A human library is one in which people serve as a source of information, supplementing books, academic journals and other traditional resources, Huntington explained. With a human library, researchers can talk with or interview an individual one on one to ask questions and get a first-hand account of what that person saw or lived through.


“The concept of a ‘human library collection’ is a new trend in librarianship especially with university and college libraries,” Huntington said. “It not only serves as another resource for research but also builds upon already established library collections. It is another extension of oral histories and bringing stories off the shelves for validation and understanding via face-to-face.”


A human library is also an outreach and engagement vessel that involves the university and the community at large.


“It showcases and promotes how diverse our communities are with acceptance, understanding and inclusion by having face-to-face dialogue and conversations, by sharing and validating life experiences of individuals via round table discussions, interviews Q & A panels, live recordings, speakers, etc.,” Huntington said.  “I feel that integrating a ‘Human Library Collection’ here at NSU can make an educational impact by using a social approach to educate students, break down any silos on campus via multi-disciplinary presentations and panels, enhance and complement library collections in times of great budget constraints and respectfully challenge stereotypes and prejudices.”


The human library concept dovetails with the university’s core curriculum and meets many competencies set for in the university’s mission statement “to understand the universe through the study of life and physical sciences, to understand the diversity of human knowledge and experiences across cultures as examined through the humanities, and to demonstrate an understanding of human behavior and the relationship between individuals and their societies,” Huntington said.


Panel participants on Sept. 11 will be State Representative LTC Kenny Cox, General George Peyton Cole, COL Frank Hall, SSG Brittany LaPoint, COL Jeff Matthews, NSU Assistant Archivist Sharon Wolff, a military dependent, and Dr. Lisso Simmons, Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade, and others who will share their stories about military service.


The event is supported by NSU President and First Lady Dr. Chris and Jennifer Maggio, Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the NSU Foundation, NSU-TV, Sodexo and Watson Library.


Organizers plan to host a Human Library event at least once per semester. The next Human Library will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in the NSU-TV Studio, Kyser Hall Room 138.


For more information, about the Human Library Collection event, contact Huntington at huntingtond@nsula.edu or (318) 357-6947.