Face-to-Face Interaction Replaces Books at Second Annual Human Library

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

By Cameron D’Amica, Staff Writer

The Second Annual Human Library occurred in the Musselman Library Apse on March 27. This year, there were 18 volunteer books and over 45 volunteer readers.

Natalie Hinton, Director of User Services, explained, “In the Fall of 2017, as a member of the campus Professional Development Committee, the conversation around sponsoring a Human Library began. The logical place to hold the event is our library. As we deliberated, I proposed collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Engagement [OME], and the library staff and the OME director, Darrien Davenport, decided to proceed.”

The beauty of the Human Library is personal connection that the interaction allows. Hinton says, “These conversations, face to face, provide the true impact of learning from one another. In our fragmented, busy world – listening, talking, learning another’s story cannot become lost to us. This event provides an opportunity to return to real dialogue.”

I was able to experience the Human Library and learn from someone that I normally would not have ever met. It was truly memorable and fascinating, and I was completely unaware of how the conversation would make my day so much better.

I was fortunate enough to read the Human Book of Ari Isaacman-Beck, a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, who has been playing violin since he was five years old. I asked him all about his life and how music has contributed to it and challenged him.

The response I received was the story of his life and how his passion for music grew and changed as he did. Hearing about Isaacman-Beck’s vast accomplishments and his education in music, it is hard to imagine that he shared similar experiences to other young musicians who never really liked practicing. He actually wanted to quit for a long time, but he decided to stick with it because he felt like the violin make him unique and special.

He began to feel passionate about music when he fell in love with classical music and attended a music camp. Surrounded by encouraging and talented peers and teachers, he began listening to new music and entered competitions. He eventually went to college and graduate school for music. He was in a piano trio, traveled the world performing, and placed extremely well in music competitions.

Along the way, Ari faced difficulties and challenges that made him who he is, but he also fell completely in love with music and wanted to be able to make audiences experience the music he loves in the same way. I learned so much from Ari, way more than I can simply convey.

The experience of talking to someone so passionate about something was encouraging and motivating, and I am so thankful that I was able to take a few minutes out of my day to learn about someone’s life, an experience made possible by Gettysburg’s annual Human Library.

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Author: Cameron D'Amica

Cameron (Cam) D'Amica '22 is a staff writer and copyeditor for The Gettysburgian.

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