Skip to main content

Human Library

This guide provides information, book descriptions, and resources about PPLD's Human Library.

2020 PPLD Human Library Catalog

More titles for our 2020 Human Library Program are coming soon! 

Check back to this page and we will add descriptions as our titles for this year are confirmed.

Reserve your favorite title starting March 2, until March 6 by calling 719-389-8968. 

 

Click on a tab to read the description

I was born three months premature in the back seat of a car. Or so my mom begins my story when I’m freaking out about being different and she has to tell it to me again. I don’t know where the car was because neither did my birth mother at the time. I was small (for a while I was dressed in doll clothes, and slept in a dresser drawer) but I was lucky…very lucky. One in five children born with cerebral palsy have it this “good.” When Mom (who was my foster mom at the time) came to pick me up from the hospital the doctors even asked her, “Are you sure you want to take THAT one? She’ll never talk, or think, or go to school, or write…” This is why doctors are called practicing physicians because they practice on us, and in my case they had never met me! Neither have you, reader. But don’t worry I won’t bite…much. I have been answering elephant-in-the-living-room questions all my life. Cerebral palsy is called CP for short to those who are “in the know.” It is actually a blanket term for several brain injuries that usually occur at birth. My specific type of cerebral palsy is called Spastic Paralysis, which means some of my muscles are tight, some are loose, and none of them do what I want them to without a little… persuasion. It is NOT contagious. It is NOT a progressive or terminal disease, and it does NOT make me less clever or unable to hear.

Further Reading:

     I am surrounded by the work of it everyday, but I have none of my own. My career is to provide the best care possible for women, especially while they are growing the next generation, yet I don’t want to contribute myself. What’s that mean?  It means I made the conscious decision not to procreate. It is not because of faulty plumbing, mismatched genetics or a desire to go against a social norm. It is not because I am single. It is not because I haven’t met the “man of my dreams”.  (If I had a dollar for every seemingly kind-hearted grandma who has said this to me in the delivery room, I would be wealthy.) I am a Nurse-Midwife and I choose to be childfree.

 

Further Reading: 

I’m in My 40s, Child-Free and Happy. Why Won’t Anyone Believe Me?

By: Glynnis MacNicol

For The New York Times 

 

Living with Life-Long Depression:  My Experience

This is a story of failure.  Decades of failure.  My story begins when I was 10.  My Mother told people that I was “high-strung” and felt life deeply.  I had no idea what that meant, that I was different.  I only knew that life was painful, I had no word for anxiety.  I only knew me; I did not know “normal”.  Just a little girl, but perfection was the goal.  Perfection is not easily achieved as a lower middle-class girl from Oklahoma.  Loving parents, two sisters….  Teenage years, college.  Thoughts of suicide.

The 20’s: And then comes loss and reality.  The deaths of parents, siblings.  Marriage, a child I loved more than life itself.  But if I could not manage my darkness how was I to raise an emotionally healthy child?  Divorce.

Finally, a drug to cure me!  Prozac.  I could change.   All I had to do was take a pill every day.  The pain, the appearance and career insecurities, the fears of parenthood, the obsessing over all that was wrong with me would be gone.  I would have to tell my secret, but it would be worth it.  Wrong.

Real Adulthood:  The decades go by and I became an award-winning actress – at least in my mind.  I hid it all to everyone.  I was a Mother, a wife, a career woman.  I’m a high-functioning depressive,  (whatever that means).  More solutions…. Paxil, Lexapro, Effexor, Wellbutrin……

But now… there is more information, more research, more understanding, counseling and I learned….. Come talk to me about strategies, coping mechanisms, what works, what doesn’t.  Talk to me about the silver lining of living with depression and waking up every day and thinking, “what will I do today to keep it all together and find joy”.

 

Further Reading:

  Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert

Cover image for The noonday demon : an atlas of depression / Andrew Solomon.  The Noonday Demon - An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon 

Cover image for Destructive emotions : how can we overcome them? : a scientific collaboration with the Dalai Lama / narrated by Daniel Goleman ; with contributions by Richard J. Davidson ... [et al.] ; interpretation and translations by B. Alan Wallace and Thupten Jinpa.  Destructive Emotions -How Can We Overcome Them by Dalai Lama and Daniel Goldman

  Heart Talk Poetic Wisdom for Better Life  By Cleo Wade

Wife. Mom. These are the labels I give myself. 

My husband is 15 years my junior. At the ages of 42 and 45, I naturally conceived and gave birth to our three babies.

Cougar. Advanced maternal age. These are the labels others have given me because of those numbers. While stereotypes follow these labels, they don't line up with my reality.

     Amelia was born and raised in Maryland and received her Bachelor's degree from Gallaudet University in Art History, and her Master's from Texas State University in Anthropology and Archaeology. She is currently enrolled in an Advanced GIS Certification program and works full time as an Archaeological Technician at a U.S. Army base, Fort Carson, in Colorado. In her position, she ensures the inventory of ~8,000 cultural resources housed in the Curation Facility are consistently updated, and develops collection management procedures. 

     As a deaf person and an archaeologist, she dedicates her time volunteering for several organizations. She is the Chair of National Association of the Deaf: Deaf Culture and History Section (NAD DCHS), one of the commissioners of Colorado Commission of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind (CCDHHDB), a team member of the Gene S. Steward Award Committee for Society of American Archaeology (SAA), and one of the Communications Committee team members of Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums (CWAM). 

    In her off time, she manages Amelia the Archaeologist, a Public Archaeology account which efforts are largely of social media outreach. By being inclusive (e.g. adding captions to her videos), she aims to bring her archaeological knowledge and experience to the deaf community and beyond. One of her goals with this endeavor is to widen the lens of deaf youth to the variety of employment and specialized positions in the working world. Another is to meet and introduce such deaf people in this field due to the lack of online and in-person representation. 

     Her current personal project is Deaf Prehistory. Amelia, as a deaf archaeologist, is especially curious about deaf people during prehistoric times! She is hopeful for a future where deaf prehistory research, among other topics deaf-related, is readily accessible and plentiful. She would also love a future of being involved in a mentorship program consisting of deaf professionals in fields matching deaf students for available opportunities (internship/volunteer/etc)! 

For further information and her social media accounts:

www.ameliasdall.com

www.facebook.com/ameliarchaeologist

www.instagram.com/ameliarchaeologist

 

Further Reading:

Recommended readings (books by deaf authors): 

Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary Deaf Artists in America: Colonial to Contemporary by Deborah M. Sonnenstrahl 
 

 Cover image for America is immigrants / Sara Novic ; illustrated by Alison Kolesar.America is Immigrants by Sara Novic 

Not your stereotypical engineer: I am a multi-faceted woman who is a mother, hiker, skier, hockey player, and real estate investor. I am passionate about music, science, movies, and scrapbooking.  My path to engineering meandered through stints at a call center and as a model.  Though my childhood dream was to be a park ranger, I left university with a B.S. in physics and hopes of becoming an astronaut.  My first mentor told me that the crowning achievement of his career was “taking a good physicist and turning her into a great systems engineer!” These days I pay it forward by volunteering with middle school students interested in STEM and striving to make the engineering world a better place for women.

Further Reading:

Cover image for Invisible Women   "Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men" by Caroline Criado-Perez

Cover image for The black jewels trilogy / Anne Bishop.Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

Cover image for The Martian : a novel / Andy Weir."The Martian" by Andy Weir

 

I was born in a small town in the state of Puebla, Mexico in a family with 8 brothers and sister from the same parents.  Luckily, I had a happy childhood growing up, even in poverty but not extreme poverty.  After coming to the United States, my focus was on studying and working.  Now I have a master’s degree in education.   By now, more than half of my life has been here, in the United States of America.  Like many other immigrants, I am different in many ways.  But I am also different from many immigrants, even Mexican immigrants.  We come in all colors and shapes.  My American friends might think I am quite Mexican and my Mexican friends might think I am Americanized. I live between two cultures and I try to take the best of both.  Equally, I try to leave to a side the negative parts that come with each of my cultures.  For many years I considered myself Mexican only.  But now I consider myself Mexican American.  I have been a teacher for 18 years.  Teaching, as you might imagine comes with so many rewards and many challenges.  I still enjoy it!   I am a mother of one girl who is finishing elementary school.  She’s the joy of my life.

 

Further Reading: 

My Favorite Books: 

Cover image for Incognito : the secret lives of the brain / David Eagleman.Incognito from David Eagleman

Cover image for The Road Less TraveledThe Road Less Traveled from Scott Peck

Cover image for Outliers : the story of success / Malcolm Gladwell.The Outliers from Malcolm Gladwell

Cover image for Man's Search for MeaningMan’s Search for Meaning from Viktor Frankl

 

Fiction:  All the books from Maeve Binchy (I have read about 6 of them).

Lately, I have been reading young adult fiction with my 10 year old daughter.

I enjoy dramas, suspense, thrillers, romance. 

I think our struggles are a powerful tool for connection if we talk about them. Some of mine have happened in the realm of my inner thoughts and feelings. I live with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic disorder. I experience psychosis sometimes when I am going through a manic episode. Psychosis is a frightening and lonely experience. Imagine losing total control over your mind, not knowing what is real and what isn't real. I experienced psychosis for the first time when I was 19, and was told by a provider that I would never be able to work full-time because of my condition. The provider was wrong!  I work, volunteer and live the life that I want. It is not easy to live with my mental health conditions, but I am still grateful for them. They keep me authentic, and because of them I have been able to relate to many amazing people who also struggle.

Further Reading.

Colorado Crisis Services 

  • Helpline: 1-844-493-8255
  • National Institute of Mental Health 

I first moved to Colorado Springs, I didn’t think there was a place for me here. As a queer woman of color, I am used to being somewhat of an outsider, even in the liberal places I’ve called home before Colorado. Often when people see me, they may not immediately
think that I am any different than the “norm” of what they are used to in this city, but this encourages me to always be open for discussion with those who have good intentions and truly wish to learn about perspectives that may differ from their own! I want
to help challenge idea of who people imagine when they think of Colorado Springs.

Further Reading:

Books
Cover image for So You Want to Talk About RaceSo You Want To Talk About Race- Ijeoma Oluo
Cover image for Me and White SupremacyMe And White Supremacy- Layla F. Saad
Cover image for White FragilityWhite Fragility - Robin DiAngelo
Cover image for The New Jim CrowThe New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander
Cover image for Racism without RacistsRacism Without Racists- Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
Cover image for The Ethical SlutThe Ethical Slut- Janet W. Hardy & Dossie Easton
Cover image for Queer : a graphic history / Meg-John Barker ; Julia Scheele.Queer: A Graphic History- Meg-John Barker
Cover image for Red, White & Royal BlueRed, White & Royal Blue- Casey McQuiston

 

Movies

Image result for children of menChildren of Men

Image result for parasite movieParasite

Podcasts

      Not many people saw this coming. Raised in an upper middle class family. The youngest of 4 and the only girl. Everyone thought I was the princess. Protected by my 3 brothers and loving parents.Nothing like drug addition would happen to the "princess". I did well in school, had my first job at 15 what could go work for me. I had it all.

     It all started very socially. I tired cocaine it was fun no big deal. Everyone was doing it at parties and special occasions. It was fun.  No big deal. Oh what the heck it's the weekend we would pool our money every so often. Those times to find a reason to pool money started to come more frequently. None of us really noticed how much more often we were using. It's okay we can stop anytime, no need to worry.

     Wham it hit me when I started missing a house payment, oh well I just paid it a little late......  and every excuse in the book for not doing something I was expected to do. Make a payment I need to make. Visit family,show up to work on time, you name it my life was out of control.

     Then it hit me holy cow I am an addict. Life took a huge hard turn and I knew that the time had come it was either going to kill me, rob me off all that I owned and cared about or I had to stop. February of 1988 I quit and never looked back. Wow what a long hard road it was to recover. I didn't go through rehab,I moved as far away as I could. I lived in less then desirable houses, isolated myself, developed  Agoraphobia. It was my hell on earth.

So grateful to be back whole again.

A song that comes to mind about what happened at that time is

" Hotel California" by the Eagles

" Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
'Relax' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'"

During that recovery time this is just what it felt like. It's a feeling of being trapped with no way out.

A daily fight to catch your breath, catch a break and survive.

 

I was born in Serbia to my ethnic German father and Romanian-born mother. When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, ethnic Germans were persecuted. To escape this, my parents and their three young children (ages 3, 2 and an infant), became refugees traveling to Germany. There my brother was born and we survived the Allied bombings for about three years. Late 1944, my father was conscripted into the German army and died in Poland (at age 34 or 35) in the waning days of WWII. My mother decided to return to her Romanian parents in Yugoslavia. We again became refugees; she was a 25 year old widow with 4 young children. Arriving in Serbia, we were sent to a Communist-run concentration camp, where all of my family died (mother age 26, sisters 6 and 4, and brother age 2). The camp closed two months after I turned 8. Then I was transferred to live in Communist Slovenian orphanages and institutions. I was lost for eight years; none of my next of kin knew if anybody from my family was still alive. In 1953 an uncle in the USA located me with help from the Red Cross. On my journey to the USA I was detained in Germany for 17 months because my (and others’) immigration papers were “lost;” we had to wait for new papers to be created. Arriving in the USA in 1956, I was finally reunited 15 years later with my aunts and uncles and met my many American cousins for the first time.

Further Reading.

I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia when I was 10.  My illness has impacted all aspects of my life: friendships, family relationships, school, and typical adult activities such as driving a car and getting a job.  Throughout my education, I was often bullied or goaded into exhibiting bad behavior by those who found it amusing to “push my buttons.”  Medications have caused weight gain, which has led to a variety of medical concerns including high cholesterol and diabetes.  My mom has been my primary caregiver and support system.  

Further Reading.

When you first become pregnant, you have so many hopes and dreams for that baby growing inside of you. You imagine their first bath, their first time walking, their first word, and many other "firsts". But nothing prepares you for raising a child that struggles with all these exciting "firsts". A child who is unable to tolerate baths due to the sensory input it provides, a child who is non-verbal for his first 5 years, or a child who refuses to eat due to his failure to get hungry. 

After this, I thought I was prepared for anything. But I still wasn't prepared for the birth of my daughter and all the things that happened afterward. I was not prepared for a life of medical complexities, the surgeries and procedures, the many hospital stays, and after years of searching for answers, the three rare genetic diagnoses she received.

This is life as a special needs parent. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs. The lessons learned.

 

Further Reading: 

Resources: https://singingthroughtherain.net/category/special-needs

My name is Jace and I am not your average guy. Going through puberty once is an exciting and terrible time, however what if you had to do it twice and while going to college and working full time? I was born a female but have always felt male. My mind and body never matched until I transitioned to male. Growing up and experiencing two genders has been not only challenging but an extraordinary experience. As a kid I never acted like a little girl and always knew something was wrong. I had to take the steps to find my true self. What it means to be a man to me is very different than most. Being transgender is a whole other world most do not know exists.

Further Reading.