Human Library - Take out a prejudice

What makes a bestseller in the Human LibraryBook with four readers.

It's often that organizers are met with the question: "Who was the most popular book in the Human Library?" And it's not just a question coming from journalists, but also readers and books are curious to know, what the most sought after title was.

The bestsellers are defined by librarians, as the books that have the most requests for loans from readers. Here a group of readers only counts as one loan. Over the years there have been many different bestsellers in different countries.

Prejudices are similar and different from country to country. In many ways there are clear comparisons to be made, in the way some groups are perceived by the majority. But there are also big differences, and they all have an impact on the bestseller outcome.

To give an example, in Denmark at the first Human Library (Roskilde Festival 2000), one of the bestsellers was the young arabic muslim. While in Hungary in 2002, it was the ex-right wing extremist. In Portugal it was the refugee and in England the homeless and the ex-gang member. It all depends on the given situation and the atmosphere in the local community. What is being debated right now? Recent events that caught media attention? And finally traditonal prejudices as those that exist about the members of the Roma community.

At every Human Library there is bound to be a bestseller or more. So you can argue, they are not necessarily to be seen as an indication of what is stirring in the pot. However it's fair to say, that the most requested titles can be linked with current events locally. In a recent London event, the ex-gang member was by far the most requested. This has to be seen in the light of sixteen gang related killings in five months on the streets of London.

It has to be said, not everyone can be a useful book in a Human Library. See our section for recruting books for more details on the proces of identifying the relevant book titles for an event, and locating the right people to fill the pages.


(Upd. 07/10/08)