what are Human Libraries?

Human libraries were created to empathize with others and open spaces for dialogue. Today’s world needs understanding and acceptance of diversity. However, the pandemic lock-in left some intolerance among us. It must be understood that empathy, understanding and comprehension are achieved by listening to other people.

human library

what are human libraries?

Human libraries are a place where there are no books to borrow, but people without distinction of sex, age, race or religion, who tell their real stories. We once heard it said that each person is a book, that is, that he or she has a story behind him or herself. They are the “books” found in human libraries that tell their lives on a voluntary basis.

They usually come to human libraries to tell their difficult lives. So that someone will listen to them without judging them. Victims of gender violence, transsexuals, migrants, refugees, among others, tell their human stories. Although when they tell their story in some media, they are completely dehumanized. Listening to someone who has lived a difficult life helps to understand diversity and to understand that it is not always possible to be in the comfort zone.

History of the human library

In ancient times, the scarcity of books and the problem of not knowing how to read led people to listen to stories. However, in a world as technified as today’s, the story was lost among devices and smartphones.

This is why about two decades ago, the first human libraries were created. It was the brainchild of journalist Ronni Abelger and other colleagues of his. They founded in 2000, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the first space they named Menneskebibiloteket.

The idea was to create a space to combat the prevailing xenophobia caused by immigration. Listening to the stories of immigrants in order to empathize with them would be a form of cultural, ethnic and religious integration.

people telling their story

The space was open for eight hours a day, four days during the Roskilde Festival. It featured fifty “human books” that recounted their difficult lives. The idea was to generate in visitors the habit of not judging other people by appearance or origin.

Today there are many human libraries around the world

The Danish human library was the germ that originated that today they exist in more than 80 countries. For this purpose, the Human Library Organization, a non-profit organization based in Copenhagen, was created.

Human books are people who have a difficult story behind them and want to share it. Many times they are confessions, others are life stories that should not be prejudged. These environments were created for understanding and acceptance of diversity and above all, dialogue.

Sessions can last from about 20 minutes to half an hour. Not only will the protagonist tell their story, but they can also be asked questions. An interactive experience that can only be achieved through dialogue and storytelling. In an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, comprehension and empathy.

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