The Human Library Where You Borrow People Instead of Books

Not your typical library.

Apr 1, 2016
Human Library at UMass

Never judge a book by its cover (umass.edu)

There are some fairly clear distinctions between a traditional library and a Human Library - namely, that the former loans out books, and the latter, humans. But on closer inspection, the two libraries are not so different.

Much like a typical library, at a Human Library a ‘reader’ checks out a person who is knowledgeable on a specific topic. The reader then has an allotted amount of time to ask the person questions and learn about the topic.

Human Library started in Denmark as a social movement that uses dialogue to challenge stereotypes and prejudices. Readers have the opportunity to borrow from a diverse collection of peoples - a police officer, a veteran, a single mom, a Muslim, a teacher, a refugee, an autist - the list goes on.

Human Library event in Toronto Human Libraries provide readers with a safe space to talk to people of different backgrounds (yongestreet)

The libraries, which have now spread to 70 countries across the world, aim to bring people together would otherwise never interact. As founder Ronni Abergal told Upworthy, it's meant to be a safe space to ask difficult questions and not to be judged. To try to gain an important insight into the life of someone you think you know something about." Human Library is as much about embracing diversity as it is about finding commonalities. Abergal wants readers to walk away from this experience with the understanding that “there are more things that we have in common than are keeping us apart.”

Though perhaps unconventional, Human Libraries may just be exactly what’s needed to break barriers, erase labels, and bring people together. After all, you never know what you can learn when you read between the lines.

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Mirele writes about everything related to doing good, with a particular interest in volunteering and social entrepreneurship, informed by her background in eco tourism.

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