As part of the Poynter Library’s renewed focus on issues of diversity and inclusion, we will be hosting a series of events in 2014/2015 to promote conversation between the USFSP community and people from many different backgrounds. The University’s strategic mission places an emphasis on being inclusive and supportive of diverse backgrounds. As I’ve mentioned before in this space, libraries in the United States abide by the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights which asserts that librarians have a responsibility to ensure that all points of view are represented in our services and collections. To bring this principle to life, the Library is hosting a series of events to encourage conversation, reflection, and questioning of assumptions about other people.
The first event is scheduled for November 6 at 6 p.m. in Poynter Corner. Jean-Charles Faust, the President of the French-American Business Council of West Florida and French Honorary Consul will be speaking about “The French Economic Presence in the Tampa Bay Area.” Co-sponsored by the Library and the Department of Society, Culture, and Language, the event is free and open to the public. French wine and cheese will be served.
On November 18, on the Library’s first floor, we will be holding our first “Living Library” event. Following a model utilized by libraries around the world in the Human Library movement, this event takes the concept of inclusion to a new level and challenges us all to confront our preconceived notions about people from different backgrounds. Individuals from the local community and from USFSP have volunteered to participate as “Living Books” available for checkout for short conversations about their background and experiences, just as in this image from a Human Library event in Copenhagen. The intent is to encourage conversation and understanding among people who might otherwise not have a chance to interact except at a very superficial level. USFSP students and others will benefit from broadening their awareness of the world around them. Starting at 9 a.m. and going until 11 a.m., there will be four separate discussion sessions with 10 minutes in between for people to move to another individual “Living Book” for a new conversation. Following the morning discussions, food from different cultures will be served at an informal luncheon served in the Library’s Poynter Corner. Dr. Vikki-Gaskin Butler, Instructor, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at USFSP, will be leading a wrap-up discussion of the morning’s event at the luncheon. This event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by USFSP’s University Advancement office
Come broaden your outlook at the Poynter Library.