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The Human Library: Check Out Real People

Human Library
By Michelle Sciarrotta

The Human Library is a place where readers check out real people rather than books on loan. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered, they hope to break down social barriers by providing a safe platform for individuals to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices that they may have through dialogue.

What is The Human Library?

The Human Library is a concept birthed in Denmark in 2000 and is now organised in over 80 countries all over the world. In a Human Library, real people are on loan to readers, giving readers the opportunity to listen to their stories first-hand.

The concept was to create a safe space and learning platform, where personal dialogues can challenge stigma and stereotypes. All of the human books are volunteers who have personal experience with their topic.

The Human Library celebrates their 20th Anniversary on 27th June.

The Human Library works by hosting events where readers can ‘borrow’ human beings serving as open books, and have conversations they would not normally have access to. Every human book represents a group in society that is often subjected to prejudice, stigmatisation or discrimination because of their lifestyle, diagnosis, belief, disability, social status, ethnic origin.

What is a Human Library book?

A book with us is a person that volunteered to represent a stigmatised group in the community and based on their personal experiences can answer questions from readers to help challenge what is being said/told/understood about a given topic. The conversations help shed light on the facts as you know them. Books are not political or on a mission, but rather able to surrender to the agenda of the reader and allow them control of the conversation.

How can I become a Human Library book and get published?

The Human Library always need more books and have a network of local organisers and book depots around the world.

Do you defy a stereotype? Are you like an open book and do you have valuable experiences that readers could benefit from learning about? Are you motivated to help challenge stigma and stereotypes through dialogue and personal conversations? Then maybe The Human Library can publish you. They state:

“We always need more books for our library. We have a network of local organisers and book depots around the world, that not only recycle our books, but also ensure they are well kept in between events.

We can promise that being a book in the Human Library is more than you expect and something you will never forget. It is also an opportunity to meet a lot of people that are different from you and yet you will find you share a lot in common.”

Sound interesting and exciting? Then please fill in this application form to the best of your ability. Once processed you will be contacted by either a local Human Library Organiser or Book Depot Manager or you will be swept up in our global book pool for storage, until we either go online or reach your area.

Learn more and apply to be published in The Human Library here.

How can I become an Organiser?

You can help create a safe space for dialogue by hosting and presenting The Human Library in your community. More conversations are needed. There is not just one good reason, but many very good reasons to become part of this global movement and start hosting and presenting Human Libraries in your community.

This concept works. The Human Library actually does what it says it will do and what it was designed to do. It helps build understanding for diversity by providing a framework for real conversations about important issues.

Open and honest conversations can lead to greater acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion in the community.

Real people in real conversations help facilitate and accommodate the process because this is an innovative approach to challenging stigma, stereotypes and prejudices through a non-confrontational and friendly conversation.

This gives a voice to groups in the community that are stigmatised and can help bring about platforms that support a greater understanding of diversity and social cohesion.

You can learn more and apply to become a Human Library Organiser here.

Become a Corporate Friend

The Human Library offers various opportunities for responsible companies to become part of The Human Library and D&I in the workplace. They also offer diversity, equity and inclusion training for companies that wish to better incorporate social understanding within their workforce, as well as grow their cultural awareness for deeper partnerships with clients.

You can learn more about how to become a Corporate Friend here.

Are Human Library events happening during lockdown?

There are online events taking place.

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

You can keep up to date with the latest news from The Human Library on their Website and Facebook pages.

Also by Michelle Sciarrotta:

Women’s Audio Mission: Free Online Learning Resources

Sophia Dalton: Interview with a London based Stage Manager

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