The Human Library™ Organization is a registered, international, non-profit with administrative headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. The concept of the Human Library was created by Ronni Abergel, Dany Abergal, Christoffer Erichsen, and Asma Mouna of the Danish youth organization Stop the Violence in 2000 and is now operational on six continents in eighty-five countries.
The Human Library™ aims to establish a safe, conversational space where difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and hopefully answered. It was developed to challenge societal prejudices wherever and for whatever reasons they occur and to help people form a better understanding of those with whom they share their communities. The Human Library encourages participants to become "Readers," by checking out a human "Book" on loan. When checked out, the human Book and Reader have a conversation on the topic/issue the book represents; for example, the human Book "Transgender" would talk about stereotypes and prejudices they encounter in their lives and answer any questions the reader may have about the topic. Conversations are not just a story-telling session but rather an experience sharing with Q&A encouraged. Conversations may extend to other areas of the book and reader's lives, potentially leading them to revelations of how they are similar or share similar experiences.
To find out more about the Human Library Organization and Human Library Project, visit their website linked above.
The Human Library experience explained in just one minute:
An overview of the Human Library (Chicago):
We at Hoover Library had heard about the Human Library organization and experienced it from the Human Book and Reader perspectives at events held by other institutions and knew the event would be a perfect way to better connect the campus community of McDaniel College with the Carroll County community. By teaming up with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Carroll County Public Library (CCPL), we hope to promote and encourage greater inclusion and build bridges between our separated and often siloed communities. An ethos of neighbors helping neighbors--even if the neighbors are only in the area for approx. four years--is the genesis of our healthy and thriving community and helps foster talent, skills, cooperation, understanding, and dignity.
Our primary goals for our Human Library event are aligned with those of the wider Human Library project: to challenge stereotypes and prejudices and encourage a culture of inclusivity and unity in our community. Our Human Library event will encourage Books and Readers who participate to “unjudge someone” and reflect on their own prejudices and misconceptions about stigmatized groups. We want to give Books a voice to tell their stories and for Readers to be reminded that these Books are people too with their own rich, personal experiences and stories to share.
Ultimately, we hope this event will be a way for our McDaniel College community and our Carroll County community to come together and build greater social cohesion, a better understanding of diversity, and a culture of inclusivity for all.
Our Human Library is the culminating event of the 2019-2020 Carroll One Book program. As such, we intend for our Human Library event to give participants the opportunity to have real, courageous conversations regarding current, important social issues such as the “othering” of certain groups of people in society based on this year’s book selection, The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison.
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