Human libraries function similarly to other libraries except that in a human library, people—rather than books—are available for checkout.
Those who volunteer to be “human books” are “people with a particular personal experience or perspective on life” and have often been stereotyped in some way. The human books agree to converse openly with other members of the community, called “readers.”
Anyone who wants to participate in the program can be a reader. After browsing through a catalog with a title and a description for each book, a reader selects a book to check out for a short period of time. The reader then meets the book for a one-on-one conversation.
Readers are able to ask questions, seek advice, learn about alternate perspectives, and find common ground. The conversations have no prescribed direction and develop organically, making each loan period unique.
The Human Library Project is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue and it has become a worldwide movement.
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