The Human Library

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Boisean Leta Neustaedter at the Human Library, a project of the Meridian Library District, at Treefort 2019

The Human Library is an international organization and movement that first started in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000. It aims to address people's prejudices by helping them to talk to those they would not normally meet.[1][2][3] The organisation uses a library analogy of lending people rather than books.[4][5] These people have "experienced prejudice, social exclusion or stigma," and participants can ask them questions so as to "learn about the other person and also challenge their own prejudices."[6][7] The Human Library Organization is active in over 80 countries,[8] in which there are a few permanent Human Libraries but most happen as events.[9]


The Human Library t-shirt

The organization began in Copenhagen in 2000 when the first Human Library event was held at Roskilde Festival.[9] The event was run by Ronni and Dany Abergel,[9] Asma Mouna, and Christoffer Erichsen, then working at the Danish Youth NGO Stop Volden (which translates to Stop the Violence), inspired by the American Stop the Violence Movement. The first event ran four days with eight hours of conversations each day and more than 1000 people took part.

The next Human Library was hosted in Oslo, Norway, by Ronni Abergel for the Nordic Minister Councils youth assembly "Unge I Norden". The event was prepared in partnership with Terese Mungai-Foyn and went on to inspire the establishment of the Norwegian Human Library program in 2003.

The first permanent Human Library was established in Lismore, Australia, in 2006.[10] As of 2019, the project has grown to have partners in more than 70 countries across the world.[11]



  1. ^ "The Human Library Organisation replaces pages with people". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  2. ^ Rice-Oxley, Mark (8 April 2012). "My day as Depression, a book at the Human Library". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  3. ^ "The best way to preserve the Welfare State is to reinvent it". The Big Issue. 9 July 2018. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  4. ^ "Borrowing a 'book' at the Human Library". BBC. 2 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Inside The Event Where People Are Open Books". HuffPost UK. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  6. ^ "Human Library". Wellcome Collection. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  7. ^ Shoaff, Morgan (18 February 2016). "Check out a human library, where you borrow people instead of books". UpWorthy. Cloud Tiger Media. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Shropshire Libraries to host Human Library events to challenge stigma". Shropshire Council Newsroom. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  9. ^ a b c Jones, Meghan (2 October 2017). "The Human Library: Where the "Books" are People". Reader's Digest. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  10. ^ Peveto, Kyle. "Human Library connects the inquisitive with 'living books'". The Advocate. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Purdue holds annual Human Library". WLFI News. Retrieved 2019-04-19.

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