The Living Library
The aim of the organization is to promote inclusion and diversity by challenging stereotypes and discrimination. The organization actively encourages people not to judge a book by its cover through human books (volunteers) who have honest and open discussions about their unique experiences with an audience (their readers) in a safe environment. The Human Library is based on a very simple idea: that conversation is key to understanding.
The Human Library was created in Denmark in 2000 by journalist and social activist Ronni Abergel as a learning platform for diversity and inclusion. The first “books” were published at Roskilde Festival on June 30, 2000, and since then the library has been introduced in more than 80 countries.
What is Human Library ?
At the “Human Library”, instead of books, people can “loan” a human. The ‘Books’ are persons who have experienced prejudice, social exclusion, or stigma, and they are ‘borrowed’ by ‘Readers,’ who are free to ask whatever question they want in order to better understand about the other person and to challenge their own prejudices.
The concept is basic and intuitive, and it is centred on the idea that one-on-one conversations can provide a personal experience of sharing, questioning, and reflection that can significantly alter perceptions. The goal is to challenge stereotypes and discrimination through dialogue.
Each “human” book writes a summary of their experiences, describing their daily activities, what they do in their spare time, one thing that may surprise people, an example of discrimination they have faced, and their values; they also choose a title for their story, which can help to facilitate the discussion.
The project’s most distinct features are its simplicity and optimistic approach. People who have participated in these events in the past have observed that they can be profound experiences for many involved. Most conversations take place in a calm atmosphere, such as a city library, a meeting room, or, as is the case now, in the garden of the Human Library’s premises. People are free to ask difficult questions as well, noting that nothing is off limits.