Real Life Library

Real Life Library connects people
You can check out, listen to, and learn from people as Books at the Real Life Library.

Come check out new stories in
Volume 5: Justice For All? of the #RealLifeLibrary
at the Goodman South Madison Branch Public Library on Saturday, September 22, 2018. Click here to confirm your attendance!

Want to help make the Real Life Library a success? Sign up here to be a Real Life Librarian on Septemeber 22!

Do YOU have a story that you’d love to share? Sign up here to be a Real Life Library BOOK on September 22!

Here’s our upcoming Real Life Library events for 2018!

  • Saturday, September 22 – South Madison Branch Library, Madison, WI
  • Sunday, November 11 – Special Veteran’s Day Edition in partnership with the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum – Downtown Central Library, Madison, WI

  • Real Life Library

    Here’s what our partners at Madison Public Library said:

    Real Life Library organizers were an absolute pleasure to work with to bring this event to the Madison community. Their attention to detail and the thoughtfulness and care they put into planning and facilitating the event cannot be overstated. We already have another Real Life Library event planned for September [2017] and we intend to both continue and expand the library’s partnership with WHOA! in the future. We strongly encourage you to bring Real Life Library to your community too!

    Real Life Library Vision

    A series of live events and a corresponding digital video library that provides an opportunity for people to listen to and learn from (Read) other people’s stories (Books)

    Real Life Library Mission

    Elevate wellbeing by building empathy, relationships, and community and connecting with community partners to create a diverse archive of people’s unheard stories

    Real Life Library Background

    Garrett Lee (founder, WHOA!) met with Madison Public Library (MPL) staff seeking to organize an event similar to MPL staff were supportive of the idea and offered to help coordinate if Garrett was able to recruit a team to plan and organize the event. Garrett connected with Jennifer Smith and Kier Huelsemann to create a core organizing group and pilot the Real Life Library on Feb. 4, 2017 at MPL. Jordan Biagomala (owner of Mr. Origin) is a professional videographer that coordinates and records the Books’ videos. Real Life Library organizers planned with a Design Thinking mindset, getting feedback to build upon successes and overcome challenges encountered.

    The Real Life Library is a well-organized package of event planning and promotion, participant recruiting and training, and video recording and publishing. Briefly, community members are vetted and selected as Books. The Books are required to attend storytelling and non-violent communication training in order to tell their story at the event and on video. The public is invited to come and check out and “Read” the Books by listening to and learning from their stories. At a later date, each of the Books are video recorded. Thus, each event creates a digital volume of Books, which will be published on the internet and on WHOA!‘s GoodPoint app.

    Real Life Library Plan

    We launched Real Life Library Premiere Event at the Madison Central Library on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, which was free and open to the public. Over 100 people attended and, based on participant feedback, the event was successful in meeting and exceeding its goals. We hosted the second and third volumes of the Real Life Library at the Madison Central Library on September 16, 2017 and March 17, 2018.

    WHOA! organizers are exploring opportunities to sustain the Real Life Library financially. We aim to create more Real Life Library events in libraries, community centers, cafes, and other gathering spaces throughout the state of Wisconsin and beyond!

    Our volunteers need your support to put on these free events!



    Contact Real Life Librarians for more information.