The Human Library
"The Human Library" is an opportunity to find out more about the people that surround you.
How much have you heard of Muslims and the Romani, police officers and journalists, LGBTQ+ people and feminists, priests and scientists or homeless people and vegetarians? Perhaps you have a certain opinion about those (and many other) types of people. But have you ever got a possibility to actually talk to any of those persons, find out what their lifestyle is like and ask them questions? That’s what "The Human Library" is for.
A Human Library works exactly like a usual library: ‘readers’ come, fill in the library card, pick a ‘book’ and read it during a certain period of time. Having returned ‘the book’, they can choose to read another one. The only difference is in the fact that the books of the Human Library are real people, and the reading is a talk.
Here silly questions don’t exist. People who take the roles of ‘human books’ will try to give a genuine answer to any of your questions. They are ready to share their life experience and discuss stereotypes and prejudices usually associated with their group. In case your question is seen as too personal or too offensive, the ‘book’ will just refuse to reply and will suggest to talk about something else.
We’ve been organizing The Human Libraries in Perm from 2012 to 2016. The last one took place in the open-air space by the Opera Theater as a part of the summer city festival ‘Mosty’ (ru: ‘Bridges’).
This is how it was:
The approach of a ‘human library’ can be used to familiarize your audience with a project by the means of one-on-one communication with its organizers. For example, you can introduce museums’ visitors to its workers or you can organize meetings with philanthropists and beneficiaries of your charity. However, in that case your event can’t be called a ‘Human Library’ (because it is not really one), but you can make a reference to the approach.