As a Reader of the Human Library, I acknowledge that all living Books are volunteers sharing their unique life experiences. I agree to listen and ask questions respectfully. I will refrain from debating a Book’s experience and will accept their answers to questions as their truth. I acknowledge that a Book has the right not to answer any question they do not wish to answer, they have the right to end the conversation at any time, and that a Librarian may interrupt or end the conversation at any time.
Conversations between Human Books and the Readers usually flow naturally. We provide you with “starter questions” that the Human Books will come up with, in case you need some help figuring out what to say. Just be yourself - that will help to relax you and to relax the person you’re talking with.
What is the Human Library?
A Human Library is an event that aims to create dialogue and understanding between people. Individuals volunteer as human ‘books’ and participants in the event can ‘read’ the book- meaning they would have a one on one conversation with the volunteer and share in a dialogue about that individual’s experience. ‘Books’ are volunteers from all walks of life who have experienced discrimination based on race, religion, sexual preference, class, gender identity, sex, age, lifestyle choices, disability and other aspects of their life. The Human Library provides the opportunity for the community to share and understand the experiences of others in their community.
Why would I want to participate?
These events are intended to provide readers with access to the knowledge and lived experiences of fellow human beings. You can hear about other's life experiences, choices and ideas with a chance to ask questions, as you can't in other situations. This is a chance to explore your own preconceptions and stereotypes. Check out the Experience page for quotes on how other people have responded to the experience.
How does a Human Library event work?
When you arrive, you will be introduced to the program by a Librarian (staff member) and will choose which volunteer (or Human Book) to speak with. At that point you are seated together to begin your conversation. Conversations can last as long as you both like, unless someone else is waiting to speak with the Human Book, at which point we end the conversation at 25 minutes. To better understand what a Human Library looks like, one can watch a video of the Human Library Chicago first event or a video of a more recent event.
How do I know what to do and what to talk about?
In the introduction, the Librarian will ask you to sign in. Then we will explain the program to you. You will be asked to agree to the Reader Agreement listed below and will receive a copy of it.
All of our books are volunteers. They come from many different backgrounds but all share the same motivation. To help bring about understanding, answer questions, and share their experiences in order to counter discrimination, prejudice and stigma. The books represent groups in the community that are frequently subjected to stigma based on disability, religion, ethnicity, occupation, social status, or sexual conviction.
Librarians are there to help you in any way they can. They will first and foremost help you identify which book title is the most relevant for you to meet and talk with. It is your choice but through your chat with the librarians we can help ensure a good match is found. The librarians have a list of all the titles we carry on our bookshelf. Once you have selected a book your librarian will bring it to you and make the introductions.
Duration of loans
Conversations can last as long as you both like, unless someone else is waiting to speak with the Human Book, at which point we end the conversation at 25 minutes. Loans can be extended if the human book agrees (they may want to take a break!); just check back at the registration desk to be sure someone else isn't waiting. Your book must be handed back to us in the same condition it was in when given to you.
It is the privilege of both parties that they can end the conversation at any point they may wish.
Where to go?
We have prepared an area of a room for you to enjoy your talk with your book. . You are not allowed to take the book home!
How to get the conversation going?
You can always start by sharing a little about yourself and why you found this title interesting. Please remember to feel absolutely free to ask any question you would like about your books topic. Do not be shy. Do respect your book.
Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover!