The reason for using the Human library format was to engage in personal, deeper level conversations on mutual topics of interest. We addressed the following questions.
1. What did you find most enjoyable? Responses included-
Books (students) were very knowledgeable about their topics. Books enjoying telling their stories. The setup where a Book (student) was in a separate place which allowed the full attention of the audience and valued and honored their work. The smaller venues, set up in different classrooms, where everyone had a chance to ask questions and comment the work. It was particularly nice to see year 4 students engaged, clearly starting to think of what they might do.
Readers (parents, teachers, fellow students) were supportive and interested in the stories.
Getting to know some of the students from my child's class a bit better. Also having time to talk to some of the teachers and parents.
I appreciated the last round in the end, with all books present, that allowed seeing everyone's project.
2. What were some challenges, if any? Responses included-
Books had to tell their 20 minute story 6 times to different audience. One student commented that she felt like a college lecturer and was surprised that this is the way the lectures are done...).
Having mixed feelings about the 20 minute session, not being sure what would work during that length of time.
Readers wanted to read more books.
Year 5 students wanted to read their classmate stories.
The last round, with all books present, was chaotic and readers tended to chat with each other rather than with books.
3. What would you do differently next time as a Book/Reader? Responses included-
Pay attention to go to a correct room. The mistake turned out to be a happy one though:)
Learn about the stories and books more thoroughly beforehand.
Try to visit all Books even if during the last "speed" round.
4. What improvements would you like to see in the set-up of /managing the library? Responses included-
Host the Human library on two days. First for the school community (during/at the end of the school day), second to the families and friends (in the evening) to ease the tension and manage stress of presentations.
Find a way how year 5 students can read their classmate stories.
Have a clear guidelines for the book about the expectations for the presentation.
Review rules for the readers for guidance for the last round.
More noticeable labels on the classrooms.
Personally as a Librarian I have always struggled with the check-out process. This year we tried pre-choosing books which saved a great deal of time during the event but took a considerable amount of librarian's time to manage this type of check-out. Nevertheless it was a worth trial which I will applied during the future events. One area to consider how best to remind the Readers Books they chose.
Overall everyone thought that the Human library format was a huge success and worked well, was engaging and allowed the students to be in the center of the attention and shine. All partakers Books, Readers and the Librarian learned a lot and were happy but exhausted at the end of the event. Some things to consider for the future events are spreading the event onto two days, giving clearer guidelines to Books and Readers to be prepared and confident and find a way for year 5 students to participate as Readers.