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The Human Library at UC Davis is designed to create a positive platform where people of different backgrounds can come together to ask questions, share stories about diverse life experiences, and have one-on-one conversations that challenge stereotypes, prejudices and preconceived ideas.

Modeled after an international movement for social change called the Human Library, the Human Library at UC Davis is an event where people are the “Books” and they offer their stories to “Readers” through 20-minute conversations. It is a forum where interesting, thought-provoking and difficult questions are expected, appreciated and discussed.

Questions? Contact us.

Join us Thursday, May 16, 2019 from 5:00-8:00pm
Peter J. Shields Library, First Floor

At our upcoming event, the following Books will share their stories. Read more about them below and RSVP to join them in conversation.

  • Sarah: I Wear Many Faces
  • Tekla: Tales of a Disabled Musicologist: Navigating Academia with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Trina: It’s the Silence that Scares Me
  • Susan: The Joy Inside A Chicken Nugget Elevator
  • Katie: Navigating Spaces in Wellness and Illness
  • Cheryl: Hard Because I Care
  • Jorge: Freedom Through Trauma
  • Jazzy: Mom, I Still Love You

As a Reader, please come prepared to ask thoughtful questions and be an open-minded, empathetic and active listener.

Meet the “Books” who have volunteered to share their stories through the Human Library at UC Davis.

If you’re interested in attending a future event as a “Reader”, please tell us a bit about yourself and we will let you know about upcoming events. As a Reader, your role is to come prepared to ask thoughtful questions and be an open-minded, empathetic and active listener.

Sarah: I Wear Many Faces

As a child Sarah experienced sexual trauma that hid under the surface until it came bubbling out in her early twenties. As an adult she’s struggled with mental health issues including PTSD and clinical depression. As she reveals her different “faces” — student, sexual-abuse survivor, patient, coworker, mother, and partner — she hopes others will learn and grow as she has.

Stephanie: Unraveling Student Homelessness

When Stephanie finally revealed to her family that she had been homeless in 2013, her family criticized her for not seeking their help. “People don’t realize,” she said, “how easy it is to fall into a situation that leads to homelessness.” Stephanie graduated in 2018 with a departmental citation and plans to apply to law school. Watch the video of Stephanie’s story.

Tekla: Tales of a Disabled Musicologist: Navigating Academia with Multiple Sclerosis

Tekla was finishing her dissertation and had her sights set on getting a job in academia. Then she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “I’ve had to redefine success and how to have a fulfilling life,” she said. “I think that would be meaningful to share with others.”

Trina: It's the Silence that Scares Me

As the mother of a recovering heroin addict, Trina has lived the stark reality of how addiction affects the whole family and how silence feeds the stigma of this disease. In her words, when you have a loved one who is an addict, “there is no easy fix, no solution, no happy or sad ending — there is just ambiguity. It is a lifelong journey.” Read more of Trina’s story or watch the video.

Vickie: African-American Women’s Experiences in Leadership

In graduate school while pursuing her master’s degree, Vickie was the only black person in one of her classes — and the only person in this particular class not selected the first time her classmates split up to work on a group project. After she received one of the few A’s on an exam, her classmates’ attitude seemed to change. She says she “can only assume they thought I was not qualified to be in a graduate program.” Episodes like this one have stayed with Vickie as she has built a successful career in campus administration, and helped make her into the successful leader she is today.

Susan: The Joy Inside A Chicken Nugget Elevator

For Susan, every day is autism awareness day thanks to her son. She says, “He teaches me every day to be more — more patient, more kind, more open, more fierce, more understanding. He teaches me to be less — less judging of others, less worried, less of who I was yesterday. I am a better person thanks to this journey.”

Katie: Navigating Spaces in Wellness and Illness

An “invisible” congenital chronic illness, diagnosed at age 15, left Katie with a dual sense of self: healthy Katie vs. disabled Katie. Katie balances the two daily, both internally and in her interactions with others, who often don’t understand that she has a disability because she appears “normal.” She uses lifestyle management strategies like diet, exercise and hobbies to overcome her disability. These strategies, she says, are “so simple and yet the most powerful treatment available” to her.

Cheryl: Hard Because I Care

Growing up Jewish and female during the ’60s and coming of age in the ’70s, Cheryl encountered a range of prejudices and stereotypes. She has been active in many movements: fighting anti-Semitism and nuclear power, and supporting women’s rights (Equal Rights Amendment, Title VII & IX), civil rights, and environmental and animal rights issues.

Jazzy: Mom, I Still Love You


Jazzy’s mom was addicted to heroin and passed away when Jazzy was 14. Yet she lives with the impact of her mom’s addiction every day: her mom’s drug use while pregnant may have contributed to Jazzy having epilepsy. “As both the child of a drug addict and as an epileptic, I’ve faced prejudice,” Jazzy says. “It became less about my ability and more about what I could have been if I had never been in that environment.”

Jorge: Freedom Through Trauma

“There wasn’t a day that went by without worrying about my family being dismantled due to their undocumented legal status,” Jorge says. He was profoundly aware of the responsibility that came with being the only documented citizen in his family. His parents, who had little education, had migrated from Mexico to seek a better future and escape from extreme poverty and injustice.

“Staying silent about my reality and confronting burdens and traumas in college — domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, racial inequities and discrimination, undocumented parents, conflicting teachings, coping with the negative effects of being ‘raised’ by an alcoholic and drug addict father, management of my mental health struggles, and balancing everything out with my love for education — was my first step in living my Mexican-American Dream and using my trauma to fuel my passion of loving and serving others.”

Do you have a story to share? If you are interested in serving as a Book at a future Human Library at UC Davis event, please complete this brief application to tell us a bit about yourself.

People who are interested in serving as Books should represent a group in the community that has been exposed to stigmas, stereotypes or prejudices. Anyone associated with the UC Davis community is invited to participate, including students (undergraduate, graduate, professional, medical, post-doc, etc.), staff, faculty and alumni.

Books do not need to have a prepared presentation nor do they need to share their entire life story. They should just be willing to give honest answers to questions that may, at times, be difficult. Books should have a desire to share their story as a way of providing others with an alternate way to look at an issue that is present in our community with the goal of helping reduce stereotypes.

We welcome you to be a part of this important UC Davis event that is focused on improving diversity and inclusion, challenging conventions, altering and broadening perspectives, and strengthening the Principles of Community at UC Davis.

To participate in the Human Library at UC Davis, please fill out this application.

Questions? Email

This UC Davis Library event is brought to the UC Davis community thanks to a 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Grant.

Help us recruit books and readers to participate in the Human Library at UC Davis. Download and print this print-ready PDF.