You Can Visit A ‘Human Library’ And Borrow People Instead Of Books

When you hear the phrase, “human library,” you might picture something sinister, like a weird sort of dystopian setting where aliens have come and taken over.

But it’s actually a lot more wholesome than that. The concept is simple: Rather than checking out a book to read, you can “borrow” a person instead!

And yes, it’s referred to as the Human Library. It is in Copenhagen, and when you visit, you get to spend 30 minutes with your “human book,” chatting and getting to know their story.

Photo: flickr/John Beans

As the organization has shared on its website, “We publish people like open books on a given topic. Our readers ask questions and get answers from their ‘book.'”

The entire aim of the Human Library Organization is to tackle certain prejudices and break down biases by helping people get in touch with people they wouldn’t normally be in contact with.

The organization has further shared, “The Human Library Organization is a global movement working to build spaces in the community for personal dialogue about issues that are often difficult, challenging and stigmatizing.”


The idea for the Human Library first came to fruition way back in 2000, thanks to Ronni Abergel, a Danish human rights activist and journalist. He first became interested in non-violence activism after a friend of his, who he described as being a “troubled youth,” survived being stabbed. He started to think that perhaps there might be a way to bring people together in a peaceful way. He wondered if a library version of humanity might be the answer.

That is when he launched his first Human Library at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen. The event lasted for 4 days, and there were eight hours of conversations happening each day. More than 1,000 people were in attendance for it every day.

The following Human Library Abergel hosted happened to be in Oslo, Norway, and it was put on for the Nordic Minister Councils’ youth assembly. But it wasn’t until 2006 that there was a permanent Human Library. It was set up in Lismore, Australia.

Photo: Piqsels

As of 2022, this project has grown exponentially. It now has partners in more than 80 countries worldwide! Most Human Libraries are part of events, but there are some that are permanent.

What do you think of the human library idea? Would you like to see more of these? Is there one in your area? Let us know!

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