Human Library - Take out a prejudice

What is a Human Book?

Human Library Lisboa Crew 2004

Most likely a majority of readers will find that Human Books are people just like you and me. But for different reasons they are subjected to stereotyping and prejudices. They are open about, who they are and prepared to share their experiences. That would be a short description of something that is exactly that and so much more. A Human Book is a person, that has chosen to be a public representative of a certain group. An example of how people can be, if only minds are open long enough to find out, who and what they really are. But before anything else, they are couragous people that stand by their convictions and are willing to discuss their values with others. As in books are most, they are wise.

Refugee Book with reader in Lisbon, Portugal 2004 A place with no stupid questions

One of the great features of the Human Library and taking out a book, is that there are no such thing as stupid questions. Books have been prepared and made themselves available, in order for you to be able to dig deep and find out what you always wanted to know about the book title. So if you're already aware, that you have stereotypes or flat out prejudices about a certain group in the community, try and go for that one. Otherwise the Human Librarians are at hand to guide you through the proces of identifying your own "worst" stereotypes. For many of the books living with the stigma or label, has been a big part of their life. They are familiar with the topic they represent, so if you take out a Gay title, you must expect the book to be gay. And so on and so forth. This is an opportunity to borrow another person for a given time, and ask them what you want to know.

Books talking in Lisbon

All books are volunteers

In the history of the Human Library, all books have been volunteers. There are no paid books, and the services of the Human Library is also free. Its a matter of principle to the idea, that its difficult to be a credible book, if its not voluntary. Sometimes it will happen that a person represents a company, local authority or other organisation, where they work. And as such they get their normal salary, as if it was just another day at the office. Some books require support to cover costs, in order to be able to attend an event, but this is typically transportation costs or other logistical support that organisers provide. So books are not expensive, but they should be recruited with care. Not everybody can be a good book, no matter how well an event is prepared. That is why all books have to fill in an application form and complete an interview with a recruiter. If you do not secure books of a certain quality, it can have a negative impact on the succes of the activity. Human books have a special quality about them, not all have the potential to be bestsellers, and many have different approaches, but they all have commitment and value. There is something about the attitude and qualities of a human being, that agrees to being lent out for hours on end, to talk with complete strangers about important and sometimes very personal issues. It shows great character and demands respect and admiration.


(Upd. 07/10/08)