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augustana human library

29th augustana human library

PDF versions of the schedule and topics

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 28, 11:00am

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Human Book Title: Patient and Caregiver

Topic: Cancer Journey

Description: In May 2018 my wife Amy, 38 year old mother of 2 children 6 and 8 years old, ultra athlete and fitness trainer was diagnosed with stage 3b Lung Cancer. As she dealt with her cancer she began to publicly document everyday what she felt and I too began to write what I was going through as a caregiver. The cancer was aggressive and her timeline was short. Amy passed away in February of 2019. This presentation is about cancer and how it affects the entire family and how we coped on Amy’s journey and continue to cope today without her physically here in our lives anymore. Together we published a book called Run On, Amy which tells our story each day throughout her journey.


Date/Time: Tuesday, March 28, 1:30pm

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Human Book Title:  I See

Topic: Visually Impaired

Description: This book describes the joys and challenges of living life with a visual impairment.


Date/Time: Tuesday, March 28, 3:00pm

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Human Book Title: United as Never

Topic: Experiencing war at home while studying in a different country

Description: When I left home three years ago I never thought that there would be a day when I have to wonder if I can return, and when I do if it will ever look the same. I have never felt this close yet that far from my home country Ukraine. I am no longer paying attention to dates, rather counting the days of war, as I watch the violent invasion and its effects unfold in my home.


Date/Time: Friday, March 31, 11:00am

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Human Book Title: Becoming Eli

Topic: Claiming my Non-Binary Agender Identity

Description: “I will not be bound to your simple gender binaries!” While still finishing my studies to become clergy, I shouted that across the meeting of church people from across the Northwest portion of Saskatchewan. Over the 20 years since I have searched for a way to understand and talk about my gender identity.


Date/Time: Friday, March 31, 2:00pm

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Human Book Title: War, Drones, and Passion

Topic: Motivations provided by the realities of war

Description: “How can I, a 10-year-old student, help the military to defend my country?” This is what I asked myself in 2014 when the war in Ukraine started. In 2022 I was sheltering with 8 other people, but even under the sounds of planes and missiles, I continued working on a drone for detecting landmines. After years of research and developing my skills, I was selected as the best student in the world among participants from more than 150 countries. In the following years, we will be able to entirely change the human experience of war with drones to detect explosives worldwide.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 4, 11:00am

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Human Book Title: Insight

Topic: Losing and Regaining Eyesight

Description: This is my story about a medical mystery that made me lose the ability to see. It was a journey that lasted over a year and still continues, due to large amounts of carbon monoxide poisoning. As a fifteen year-old boy, I dealt with trials such as medical complications, operations, unanswered questions, and blindness. My story shows what it's like to lose all vision overnight. I came back from the edge of death and blindness.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 4, 1:30pm

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Human Book Title: Same, Same but Different

Topic: Supporting Our Transgender Daughter

Description: Being a parent to adult children is a joy and a balancing act, especially when your child comes out as a transgender person. This story is about our family's loving journey with our daughter.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 4, 3:00pm

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Human Book Title: The Road Les Traveled

Topic: Travel, Adventure, and Serving the World

Description: This my story of my real life experiences, in my decision to take real risks to challenge myself to do the two most important things in life: to help the poorest people in our world, and to protect our natural environment. I lived on skid row in Edmonton. I did some long wilderness solo expeditions. I competed in the Ironman Triathlon. For more than 20 years I have guided wilderness river expeditions across Canada's Arctic. I coached Beckie Scott, Canada's first Olympic Gold Medalist Cross Country Skier. I am a humbly defeated candidate in six federal elections, en route to becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. I have backpack travelled to 30 of of our world's poorest countries to volunteer to serve the poor. I moved to Quebec to learn French and coach. I almost died of cancer. I had open heart surgery. I fell in love for the first time at the age of 58 and got married.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 4, 6:30pm

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Human Book Title: Non-Monogamous Relationships

Topic: Polyamory

Description: Some hearts embrace loving more than one partner, and those who do it in an honest, and ethical way are called polyamorous. I have had polyamorous relationships for nearly ten years and currently have two partners. I am also the Director of the Polyamory Edmonton Association, which provides information and support to Edmonton's polyamorous community. It's not always an easy path to live a life differently than societal norms, but with the abundance of love and support I have, it has been worth every step and stumble.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 11, 11:00am

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Human Book Title: Queer Changes

Topic: Marriage in Transition

Description: The question everyone has but doesn’t want to ask ... "are you a straight couple now?" Join these human books as they share their story as married lesbians to a marriage in transition.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 11, 1:30pm

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Human Book Title: How Old Are You?

Topic: Ageism, Academic Success, Homeschooling

Description: How would you feel if you found out that one of your university classmates was only 13 years old? How would it feel to be that classmate? We graduated from U of A class of ‘21 after starting university at age 14 and 12. After hiding our age for years we are coming back to campus to share our story.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 11, 3:00pm

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Human Book Title: Survival is Not Just About Mortality

Topic: Breast Cancer

Description: As a survivor of breast cancer, this human book has lived with a body permanently altered by surgery and, when chemotherapy made her hair fall out, as the object of stares. When dealing with these, as well as making decisions about reconstructive surgery, she revisited what it meant to be embodied in a culture that depicts gendered bodies in fixed and stable forms. Her exploration was and is made more pressing when compassionate “pink” programs reinforce conventional images of normative bodies and “pink” fundraising reconsolidates women as domestic and depoliticized. Recovering from cancer treatments became not simply a plan for survival, but a politicization of what it means to be a survivor in a culturally problematic body and on whose terms.


Date/Time: Thursday, April 13, 11:00am

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Human Book Title: Yellow Star - Red Star

Topic: Surviving the Holocaust

Description: Yellow Star - Red Star was born in Hungary in 1932, a year before Hitler came to power. She started school at the outbreak of World War II. Many of her family and friends were murdered in the Holocaust, together with half a million other Hungarian Jews, but a series of miracles and coincidences allowed her to survive. She worked as a child labourer in the agricultural and armament camps of Austria and was liberated by a rampaging Soviet Army.


Date/Time: Tuesday, April 27, 10:30am

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Human Book Title: Unguarded Authenticity

Topic: Gender Transition: My Biggest Lesson

Description: The most valuable lesson that I uncovered through my gender transition was that my decades of personal struggle were never about being transgender, but rather, about being human. This epiphany helped me to recognize a fundamental bond between us all: that at our core, we share a need for self-actualization, and are all in a transition towards a more authentic version of ourselves.

augustana human library

Can you imagine life as a transgender person? Or how about living with memories of childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism or physical and cognitive challenges? These were just a few of the topics available in recent augustana human library events.

human library is an initiative in which people called 'Readers' who want to learn about a specific topic 'check out' people called 'Human Books' for an hour of conversation.

The augustana human library has achieved multiple awards. Most recently, we received a 2018 University of Alberta Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award. In 2017, we received the ALA Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects. Citations are awarded each year by the ALA President at the International Relations Round Table (IRRT) International Librarians Reception during the ALA Annual Conference to recognize innovative contributions to international librarianship. In 2015, Nancy Goebel was the winner of the Association of College and Research Libraries Women and Gender Studies Section Award for Significant Achievement in Women and Gender Studies Librarianship

For more information about the augustana human library, email


Human Library Photos