Real Life Library Invites Service Members to Tell Their Stories

Thursday, November 1, 2018 - 10:48am

WHOA and Madison Public Library Partner with the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for Veterans Day Storytelling Event

Madison, Wis. – This Veterans Day, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum has teamed up with WHOA and Madison Public Library to host a Real Life Library event featuring military service members and veterans. Inspired by the Human Library Project, Real Life Library is a unique storytelling and listening event designed to provide the opportunity for community members to listen to and learn from other people’s stories. 

For this Veteran Day edition, service members and veterans volunteers will act as live “books” that attendees can “read,” taking in each person’s 20-minute real, personal stories. This first-hand look into the experiences of veterans will help participants understand what it means to serve in the military.

Each of the “books” will be recorded and used to build a digital repository of stories and experiences that can be shared, taught, and passed on from generation to generation. Every Real Life Library event ultimately creates a digital volume of books, or human perspectives that can help educate others on social issues and humanize history. The videos from the Veterans edition will also be preserved and made accessible by the Archives at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

Real Life Library is grounded in the belief that everyone has a story to tell and those stories can elevate wellbeing for everyone, both the books and the readers. “When we listen, we engage in deep empathy and build relationships which will build community,” says WHOA! Founder, Garrett Lee. 

This Veteran’s Day program is organized by local nonprofit We Help One Another (WHOA!) in partnership with the Madison Public Library, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.

Real Life Library: Veterans Edition will take place at Central Library on Sunday, November 11 from 11:00-4:45pm. Doors open for food and gathering at 11:00am, first sessions start at 11:30am with the last checkout at 3:00pm. 

This event is free and open to the public, kids under 12 with adult supervision. 

For more information, visit or

About Wisconsin Humanities Council
The Wisconsin Humanities Council is a leading statewide resource for librarians, teachers, museum educators and civic leaders, who drive entertaining and informative programs using history, culture and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone. The Wisconsin Humanities Council also awards more than $175,000 a year over seven rounds of grants to local organizations piloting humanities programming. For more information on Wisconsin Humanities Council, visit or connect on Facebook at or Twitter at @WiHumanities. 

About Madison Public Library
Madison Public Library’s tradition of promoting education, literacy and community involvement has enriched the City of Madison for more than 140 years.  Our nine locations throughout the City of Madison welcome over 2 million visits each year. For more information, visit, madisonpubliclibrary on Facebook,  @madisonlibrary on Twitter, and @madisonpubliclibrary on Instagram.

About the Wisconsin Veterans Museum  
The Wisconsin Veterans Museum dates to 1901 when it was established as the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall in the Wisconsin Capitol. It is an educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs and a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate since 2014, one of only three in Wisconsin, which gives it access to the Smithsonian’s unparalleled collections and scholarship. For more on the Museum’s exhibits, collections and events, log on to Museum admission is free and it is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 30 W. Mifflin St., directly across from the State Capitol. For more information, visit, WisconsinVeteransMuseum on Facebook, and @Wisvetsmuseum on Instagram.

About We Help One Another (WHOA!)
We Help One Another is a Madison-based nonprofit organization on a mission to elevate wellbeing. For more information, visit, wehelponeanother on Facebook. Follow Real Life Library on social media using #RealLifeLibrary.