Introducing the Human Library

Posted by: | August 23, 2011

Are you aware of what your prejudices are?  If given the chance, would you admit or challenge these beliefs in order to create a healthier society?  This is precisely the opportunity being given to hundreds of people all over the world through the Human Library. 

Started in Denmark, in 2000 the Human Library began with the goal of challenging stereotypes in order to reduce youth violence.  This was accomplished by providing people with living, breathing, human ‘books’ that could be checked out and ‘read’.

 I first heard of the Human Library last week when an article appeared on my Twitter feed announcing that the project was coming to Surrey City Centre Library.  The goal of the project is to foster healthy communities by breaking down prejudices and allowing for the opportunity to dialogue with people different from oneself. 

The books available vary depending on where the project is being hosted, but some of the libraries have included titles such as: Anthropologist; Buddhist; Dyslexic; Muslim Woman; Male Nanny; Politician; Mental Illness Sufferer; Former Gang Member and Police Officer.  Visitors can check out books for 30 minutes and use this time to ask them anything.

Though the goal of the project is to break down social barriers, I cannot help but also see it as a lesson in change and adaptability.  With the explosion of technology in the last 20 years and the more recent ‘apple revolution’, our traditional methods of communication and learning have been overhauled.  It baffles me to imagine that my future children will not know what a video store is.  It amazes me that they will never have to wait for the library to open to research that nagging piece of pop trivia in the encyclopaedia.  I am shocked to realise that I made it through my last year at university without having to set foot in a library. 

The Human Library has found a way to bring back the traditional library experience in a modern way that appeals to our current over connected existence.  It is breathing life back into what could easily have become an archaic and extinct form of social and community connectedness.  My hope is that in the future more of these hybrid ideas arise as a way of reminding us of what we once valued and how this value should not be sacrificed for modern technology but instead incorporated into it.

For more information on the Human Library click here.

Filed under: Miranda Massie | Tags: , , ,

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