The Human Library

A story recently struck us, covering the concept of a “human library” on the campus of Reedley College in California. There they were lining the quad (in the middle of campus) with tents labeled things like “Muslim,” “Children of Deaf Parents,” “Blind,” “Black,” and so forth, representing a bookshelf to peruse. The “bookshelf” would be open and available for other people to come and learn from, to “read” if you will. The concept allows for outsiders to gain an insider’s perspective on a subject they want to know more about, don’t understand, or disagree with. It’s an interactional experience, allowing for a conversational flow, where the “reader” can ask questions, and leave with a new perspective. As with all good ideas, this one was naturally an offshoot from a larger movement, growing wings and spreading understanding worldwide.

The Human Library™ is an organization that was established in the spring of 2000, in Copenhagen, Denmark as an offshoot from a group known as “Stop the Violence.” It was designed as a project for Roskilde Festival by Ronni and Dany Abergel, and their colleagues Asma Mouna and Christoffer Erichsen. The event gathered people to act as “books,” available to read by the public. It originally took place for eight hours a day for four days straight, featuring over fifty different titles to read. The ample choice of books allowed readers to challenge their stereotypes, and take a cultural deep dive. More than a thousand readers participated in the event. Now the movement has spread worldwide, and is teaching the world to build positive frameworks for conversations about prejudice, preconceived notions, and so much more. At The Human Library™, difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered. Communities are rallied, learning is in full force, and bridges are being gapped. Born from a dream to “Stop the Violence,” this movement is forging love in the world, one “book” at a time.

If you are interested in becoming “a book,” organizing or joining an event in your area or want to learn more, visit humanlibrary.org. This unique movement will continue to live on, and we hope we’ll be able to attend one soon. Who know’s ⸺ maybe we’ll even become a book ourselves. What would your spine read?

Single mother? College dropout? Super hero? (to be clear, the three are not mutually exclusive.)

However you build your encyclopedia, don’t forget: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, just ask it for more information.

Happy reading!
To learn more about The Human Library Project, tune in to “Cover to Cover”!