Spending quality time with a good book that opens up new thinking is always something readers strive for. Being able to have a one-on-one conversation with the author of that book to create a meaningful dialogue is even better. Wilton Library’s Human Library, on Saturday, March 24, from 1 to 5, provides just that opportunity.

As the program name might imply, the stories available on that day are human “books;” community members who have volunteered to share their stories in order to break down barriers based on age, race, sexual orientation, religion, ability, lifestyle choices, or other aspects of their identity. The library is offering 20 “books” ranging in topics from ageism to anorexia, racism to surviving sexual assault, from being Christian to being Pagan, from defeating addiction to living with Alzheimer’s and much more.

The Human Library is an international movement that started in Denmark in 2000 and is now held in more than 70 countries. Wilton Library is the first non-academic library in Connecticut to receive permission from the Human Library Organization to host an event.

Susan Lauricella, teen services and makerspace manager, said of the program, “I first had a chance to see the Human Library in full swing at Fairfield University and I was overwhelmed by the experience — both by the “books” and the interactions and reactions from the “readers,” people who took the time to sit down with each of the human books and engage in conversation.

“The tagline for the initiative is ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ which is very true for our brave volunteers,” Lauricella said. “In these few hours, if we can gain just a modicum of understanding or compassion for what others are going through, whatever challenges or prejudices they face, then we will feel that we accomplished what we wanted for the community.”

“With intolerance becoming the accepted norm on social media, this project gives people a chance to step back, and have a thoughtful and meaningful conversation in more than 140 characters with someone who might not naturally be part of their circle of influencers,” Elaine Tai-Lauria, executive director of the library, said. “We’re looking to bring new insight to people in an original way.”

For an advance look at the “book jackets,” people may visit the library’s website at www.wiltonlibrary.org and click on the “Human Library” icon where they can see the individual stories listed.  

There is no advance registration for the program. People may sign up for 10-minute conversations with the human books when they come to the library on March 24, between 1 and 5.