Lending a Friend: The Human Library

25 April, 2016


Everybody knows reading broadens the mind, but how cool would it be if you could take an actual living, breathing person out of the library and learn directly from them? Sounds impossible, right? Well think again! Say hello to The Human Library; an international project designed to break down prejudices, one conversation at a time.

How Does it Work?

A typical Human Library event goes like this: you choose a 'book' from a 'catalogue' of volunteers - usually someone from a marginalised or misunderstood group - and then, well, you just chat! A chance to listen to stories, ask questions, and get to know the human being behind the stereotype. After all, if you want to understand someone, there's no better way than taking a seat and having a chat!

Thanks to the project, 'readers' get a chance to see beyond the label, where that's 'mulsim', 'transexual', or one of the other entries you'll find in the Human Library's Catalogie (events typically feature 10-15 'books'). It's a fun and social way to make a pretty serious point: don't judge a book by its cover! (Not only that, but no late fees, and no librarians keeping you quiet... score!)

Where Did It All Begin?

The Human Library was the creation of Danes Ronni Abergel, his brother Dany, Asma Mouna and Christopher Erichsen. Having already launched 'Stop the Violence' - a young group tackling hate crime - the new project seemed like a great way to further spread their message of tolerance and understanding.

Known as 'Menneskebiblioteket' in Danish (don't worry... we'll stick to English!), The Human Library kicked off at the famous Roskilde music festival back in 2000. Running for four days straight, eight hours a day, the original Human Library checked out more than 50 'books' to more than a thousand festival-goers!

Organisers, 'book's and 'reader's all agreed that getting to know someone a bit better was a suprisingly powerful experience. Word soon spread, and Human Libraries are now stocking their shelves in more than 60 countries worldwide, helping people from the widest variety of backgrounds and lifestyles get on the same page.

Want to read more about The Human Library? Their website has all the reference materials you need and they're always available!