The “Human Library” lets you borrow people rather than books

By Maria Kyriacou

The “Human Library” lets you borrow people rather than books
Which human book's story would you like to hear at the Human Library? Perhaps “Olympic Athlete”, “World Citizen” or “Loveable Lumpy Loon”? This library promotes tolerance with humour and empathy thrown in for good measure.

There’s not a single book in sight at this library, but it offers a wealth of knowledge and the most variety in storytelling you could ever imagine.

The “Human Library” offers the chance to borrow a human who has a life story or experience to share, be it entertaining, informative or inspiring. Just like a library you peruse the subjects you’re interested in.

Ever wondered what it’s like to take part in the Olympics? Borrow “Olympic Athlete”. Want something a little more random? How about “Biking Agoraphobic”?

The human books on offer assign their titles themselves – everything from “Sikh or Freak”, “Loveable Lumpy Loon”, “Unmothered Mother” or “World Citizen”.

This novel concept first originated in Denmark, but has gone global with human libraries sprouting in fifty countries spanning five continents.

Tasmania has adopted the concept, with its own Human Library In Hobart. On their website they state, “ Human libraries are a catalogue of everyday people willing to share their stories. Often these ‘human books’ are subjected to stereotyping and prejudices, or have chosen to be a public representative of a certain group. They may be from different cultures or religions, refugees, homosexuals, the elderly or people with a disability.”

It is a means of getting different people to question their prejudices. The idea emerged from humble beginnings via a youth organization called “Stop The Violence”, and has morphed into a movement promoting understanding and empathy.

What better way to conquer preconceived ideas about people than to “borrow” them for a half-hour session, and hear their personal story?

What would your human book title be?



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