Human Library - Take out a prejudice

Recruiting Books

The most difficult part of securing a great event is finding and recruting the right books for the occasion. Books are the single most valuable ressource in the Library, and their content and abilities are essential to the proces. In the guide to organisers there is a full section on how to go about recruiting books, but there are also some things that need to be mentioned here.

Interviews with book candidates

A time consuming but important task is to ensure the quality of books. This is done by conducting interviews with each book, typically done in correlation with a briefing meeting, usually a week before the event. Or else at personal meetings where the recruiter has an opportunity to ask the book about their title and motivation to be a book. The purpose is to ensure, that books are there for the right purpose, no matter what title they represent. Some added value from this round of talks is that organizers get a clear image of what each book is about, and this should be reflected in the description of the book.

Types of booksBooks from Human Library in Norway 2003.

Books come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but what is most interesting, is why they come? There are many types of approaches to getting your hands on the right books. The first thing is always to sit down and list the aims and objectives of the event. That will help decide on the characteristics of your book collection. Once settled on what types of books you have on loan, then start by looking through your natural network for candidates. Usually the best books are not aware, that they are great books, untill the event is over. Once the word gets out about your acitivity, some people may come forward to volunteer to be books. Now often some very interesting books can appear this way, but beware to make sure to conduct an interview, and that you are familiar with the motivation for coming forward.

Provocative titles encourage reading

There is a fine line between humor and harm. In marketing the events in different countries, organisers have had many different reactions to provocative advertisements, that illustrate the prejudices, and is an eye opener. It's important to take into consideration, what the local culture and political atmosphere is like. In order to avoid becoming too provocative or too quiet in an attempt to be politicial correct. Not all books can be politically correct, and that is the whole point. So create the list of literature with respect for the context, but also for the aims of the event.

Step-by-step to recruiting

In the free guide to organisers you will find more practical information on how to get in touch with organisations, local authorities and interest groups, that can supply books for your Library. A majority of books are volunteers, and a few are there as part of their work, such as the policeman. Some books have special needs, that has to be taken into consideration when recruting them, for example axcess to the facilities for disabled persons, expenses attached to special transportation, or just books that have to come a long way to take part.


(Upd. 07/10/08)