Clarkson University’s Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) is planning to host its first Living Library event in the fall of 2022.
According to COTAD Chair Lynn Nguyen, the Living Library is an event the group hopes to host annually, which will create a brave space for tough dialogues to occur that are not often talked about. The concept of the living library consists of people as open books.
“This event is a great opportunity to challenge the stereotypes and address concepts of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) which is what our organization is about,” Nguyen said. “COTAD CU aims to promote JEDI concepts within Clarkson and give students a chance to feel heard and not judged by others. I think this event will be an amazing experience for students and faculty members to get a chance to understand each other on a deeper level.”
Multiple topics will be discussed at each event, and participants will have the opportunity to interact with more than one “open book” during the event.
Nguyen believes the Living Library will be beneficial both for the “readers” who come to hear stories and for the “books” who are sharing their experiences.
“It is important for students to understand each other's experiences on a deeper level because they can potentially form meaningful relationships with one another. Also, the human book is able to be heard and their feelings may be validated by others who are willing to listen to their story,” she said. “A participant that attended this event may be silently struggling and this event can give them an opportunity to relate to the book. Participants may also feel safe enough or encouraged to potentially become a book themselves for future events.”
Katherine Moss, Collection Management Librarian at Clarkson, has hosted similar events in her previous position at the College of Saint Rose. She shared her planning materials with COTAD, and said students in the past loved the event as a way to open dialogue on a variety of issues.
“The events create a safe place for people to share and teach each other,” Moss said. “Participants told us that they felt these events changed their perspectives and opened their minds. Some also formed friendships with other participants and stayed in contact after the events.”
COTAD is planning to host its first event in the fall semester.