Human Library - Take out a prejudice

Take out your prejudices

David - The punkér book from the first Human Library

Working with the Human Library you realise that everybody has prejudices. We don't believe, that there is a single person on the planet, who can truly say they are free of prejudice. A person daring to make that claim, you could argue would then become the target of prejudice or stereotyping. Because making up our minds about something, is our basic way of navigation through our world and daily life. If a person behaves strangely on the street, we are often quick to convince ourselves, that such "abnormal behaviour" must be caused by some sort of mental disorder and/or drinking problem. A common thought about overweight people, amongst people who are not overweight themselves, is that we tend to judge and think: "Have you no shame, or no mirror?". Must of us not knowing or even considering, that the person may be perfectly comfortable and happy with their current size and shape. Far from all overweight people are unhappy with their weight, and so we could go on for hours with other examples that would apply to the rule.

Muslim book with reader at Idea Store, London.Understanding is key

But we need to be able to characterize something, in order to put it in a box in our minds, and then tell ourselves, that we know its characteristics and thus we understand it. We may not admire, agree or even respect it, but at least we understand it. Understanding tends to create room for diversity. Its always easier to live next to someone, that you can identify with somehow, than with a group that you feel no relation with. So even on a friendly neighbourhood level, using the Human Library to display the many shades of grey that makes the world so colorful, can make a difference. And then people will surely feel more safe there, because they feel understood. Understanding is the key to peace and harmony, when people feel understood, they feel at ease with themself and their sourroundings.

Book (left) with reader in London.

Facing your prejudices is not easy

But there is a good chance that it will make you feel relieved of a tedious burden. Stepping up to the plate to realize what stereotypes you have accumulated about another persons group, job, sexuality or religion, to mention a few, is an important decision. To throw something considered to be fact into the air and discuss it with somebody close to the problematics and see where it lands. There is no coersion here, just freedom of speech within the guidelines for readers, available HERE. Becoming a reader in the Human Library is an opportunity for new impressions and for putting ideas to the test. 

Refugee Book with three readers in Lisbon 2004Visit a Human Library near you

Words in writing can say many things and even have a very strong impact on people. But the Human Library is about words face to face. And for some readers they are truly difficult words. Some seek advice from book titles such as the ex-alcoholic or drug user. Others want insight into titles such as the disabled, the muslim, the hiv infected or the refugee. Taking books from a Human Library is free and you get out of it, what you choose to put into it.And be prepared for an experience like no other you have ever had before. See our activities section for upcoming events organised by local organisers in your country.


 (Upd. 29/01/09)