Human Library - Take out a prejudice

What do the Books say about being on loan

A vast majority of readers are thrilled with the opportunity to take out a Living Book, but what do the books get out of making themselves available for questioning all day, and how do they feel about their experience after meeting their readers? Below we have picked out a few of the statements made in evaluations, filled out by books after taking part in Human Library events.

Quotes from previous books:

The Survivor, Judy from Santa Monica Human Library, October 2008.

"I was a Living Book at the Santa Monica Library. I still get goosebumps thinking
about that day, the people I met and the
impact that our stories had on each other.
It will always be a highlight of my life
to have been part of this amazing activity.
"Books" and "Readers" alike all agreed that
we'd do it again in a minute". 


The Trans-gender post operation, Jacqui from London

"Naturally all my readers wanted to know, why I had my operation. But they sounded genuine in their time with me, and I enjoyed all the readers and all the other books. My biggest challenge was to get back on time. My advise to readers is not to be shy!". 


The Police officer, Helen from London Metropolitan Police

"One reader actually told me that I had helped them get over their prejudice. And I think I learned something about what some people think of police officers. Most frequently asked question was about my piercings. My readers wanted to know if they really let people with piercings into the Police. It was challenging to represent my organisation, but a very honest experience at the same time. I would recommend readers to hire out everyone and books to be honest". 


The Vegan, Hannah, 24 years old

"I learnt more about where my arguements for being a Vegan fall down, but I also realized, that I prefer not to stick to hard and fast rules. And that in itself may be a good thing. I found it challenging to overcome my own prejudices about my readers, and the questions I expected they would ask me. I would recommend future books to just be themselves. You don't need to justify your existence, just relax. Most frequently asked questions: Does it cause problems with your meat eating partner, and how do you stay healthy?".


The Facially Disfigured, Victoria, 29, from the association Changing Faces

"I enjoyed the experience very much. Many of my readers told me about their own experiences of prejudice or discrimination, so my sessions were very much about sharing experiences. Future books need to approach the experience with a sense of humour, and readers should not be afraid to ask all the questions, they have always wanted to ask. I was wondering what questions might be asked, nosy or insulting, but I did not get any of that. Most frequently asked questions were: How do I deal with people staring at me, and questions about my views on plastic surgery?".


The Funeral Director, Abi, 28, independent business owner

"I felt I was able to provide information about my job and to challenge some misconceptions. It also gave me a chance to think about, why I do, what I do, and how it affects me and others around me. Most challenging was being honest without being too graphic, and that I did not inadvertantly upset someone by using an example, which related to their own life. To future books I would say: Be honest and open, and you'll have a rewarding experience. Most frequently asked question: How did a nice girl like me get started in my job?". 


The "Publicly" Fat Person, Raina, University Technology Program Coordinator, Australia.

I wish there were more opportunities to talk to people about this. Too often it's because someone abuses me, tries to tell me I should be dieting, suggests WLS or similar…and then I get defensive. This was completely different, and was really good. 

Someone said to me, before I did this, that it was great, that I was going to be 'publicly fat,' and that just stuck with me as such a wonderful phrase. So during the Human Library when people asked me, if I spoke like this other times, I said "No, this is my first time being publicly fat!" and then laughed (because of course I'm publicly fat all the time, because I'm fat and I'm out there doing stuff!) 

Quotes lifted off Raina's blog: "Publicly Fat in Australia".

Link to entire Blog


Book evaluations

At each event books, readers and librarians are asked to fill in an evaluation form and comment on their experience with the Human Library. A vast majority of books, say they would be a book again without hesitation, and almost everyone felt they benefited directly, by helping to improve their readers understanding for the group that they represented. Many books express that they've learned as much from meeting their readers, as they did from meeting the other Living Books. This underlines why the personal sit-down is so important, and confirms the win-win situation. Should it ever happen, that no readers would attend an event, the organizers can be sure, that the books will read each other during the wait for "real" readers. The issue of being understood, having a chance to explain and to clarify things appear to be a key motivational factor for many books.

This subpage is not complete yet and will expand with time, last updated 26/02/09.