Human Library

An interesting approach to applied intercultural dialogue is a program called the Human Library. Here’s the basic description from the organization’s website:

“The Human Library is an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding.The main characteristics of the project are to be found in its simplicity and positive approach. In its initial form the Human Library is a mobile library set up as a space for dialogue and interaction. Visitors to a Human Library are given the opportunity to speak informally with “people on loan”; this latter group being extremely varied in age, sex and cultural background. The Human Library enables groups to break stereotypes by challenging the most common prejudices in a positive and humorous manner. It is a concrete, easily transferable and affordable way of promoting tolerance and understanding. It is a “keep it simple”, “no-nonsense” contribution to social cohesion in multicultural societies.”

Some basics of the group’s history (the complete story can be found here):

It started in Denmark in 2000, developed by an NGO, Stop the Violence, based in Copenhagen. Supported by the Council of Europe, and public libraries around the world, the Human Library has spread rapidly. Australia is the first country to establish a permanent Human Library; and an Australian prepared an academic study of the project. In 2013 Canada became the first country to create a National Human Library Day. Programs around the world have received a variety of awards.


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