BY: JESSICA BEUKER
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s especially true if the book is a person. The Human Library lets people check out “interactive books” for half an hour, but the words come straight out of people who have volunteered to tell their stories.
Started in Denmark, the Human Library lets readers scan through a catalog and select a topic that they’d like to hear more about. A range of topics is available, most of which are taken from genuine human experiences that typically focus on a group that is stigmatized or stereotyped within society. Religious, racial and sexual minorities have all volunteered to tell their stories. Some of the titles offered include: Child of the Holocaust Survivors, The Gypsy Tale, Iraq War Veteran and Orphanage Boy.
A range of topics is available, most of which are taken from genuine human experiences that typically focus on a group that is stigmatized or stereotyped within society.
After selecting the topic they want to learn about, ‘readers’ take their library card and are led to a discussion area where they meet their “book.” The project was invented to spark conversation and foster understanding between different types of cultures and people – people who would not normally interact with one another.
Csaba tells readers what it’s like to be homeless in Denmark.
“The purpose being to challenge what we think we know about other members of the community,” writes the Human Library on their Facebook page. “To challenge our stereotypes and prejudices in a positive framework, where difficult questions are accepted, expected and appreciated.”
Marc, a “body decorated title from Denmark.”
A naturist book on loan.
According to Good News Network, the idea was started in 2000 by Stop The Violence, a Danish youth-based nonprofit. The very first Human Library was hosted at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, but the project has now spread to over 70 countries across the world.