Human Library

Raul Torres

Photo | Tara Espinoza

The Ross Pendergraft Library and ATU social movement presented the human library on Nov. 4. The human library is an event where people of different backgrounds, education, and genders are available for students to sit with and listen to their life story.

The idea behind the event is “to promote inclusion and get people to sit down and talk to others that they might not. Connect to the humanness of others,” Sherry Tinerella, public services librarian, said.

One of the human books was professor Kelly Jones, who is the only woman on the history and political science faculty. Jones advised Tech students about finding their voice and how to reach their goals. “One thing I have found in academia is men are more likely to be direct, so I learned early on that I need to do the same. I am opinionated, and it has helped me a lot. Go out there and be unapologetically you. Take up space,” she said. She hopes her stories will help break down doors for others.

Another book available to students was Tennille Lasker-Scott, who discussed her childhood and her experience as an African-American woman.  “I was in the store holding my mother’s hand going through the aisles of the store. This older white woman came up to me, and she leaned down to me and said, ‘Aren’t you the cutest little chocolate thing. I have never seen one of y’all; that was cute.’ I thought it made me special; it was the 1980s. My mother snatched me up,” Lasker-Scott said. She hopes her stories will help break stereotypes and help stop discrimination.

Immigrant Raul Torres shared his story about coming to the states and his struggles.

“Because we faced learning a new culture, a new language and no friends. In 1987 we moved to Oregon, and it was new. I came with a dream to make money and go back to my country. I got into a fight with my dad about school or work, and we made a deal about me working during the day and going to school at night. I went for a year and a half; I learned English, then I quit school. I was young; I shouldn’t have quit. I went and got married and started hanging out with the wrong people. In 1996 I got my first DUI, and then in 1998, I was arrested for possession of illegal substances,” he said.

Torres is now the director and pastor of Main Street Mission, a nonprofit in Russellville aimed to help those in need. He wants his story to inspire others not to give up and know that it is okay to reach out for help.

The event is one that the library is hoping to continue in the years to come. For more information about the library and the events, go to