The Human Library Project

What IS a Human Library?  The Human Library works exactly like a normal library where readers come to borrow a Book, return the Book to the library and then borrow another Book if they choose.  There is only one difference…the Books in the Human Library are human beings and the Books and Readers enter into a personal dialogue.  The Human Library idea itself is a simple one:  Getting to know the people in your community breaks down barriers and builds understanding. The idea behind the Human Library is that personal contact is very powerful in breaking down barriers – seeing the human being in the ‘other’ and realising that the stereotype never does justice to a person.  It’s about building social cohesion in the community and increasing acceptance and understanding. It’s about celebrating diversity and fostering respect and appreciation of that diversity.

As an example, Lismore Library has been conducting a Human Library since November 2006.  This project provides the opportunity for people in their diverse community, who would normally never interact, to come together in a safe, supervised environment where the expectation is that you can freely exchange dialogue and ideas.

Our local Blue Mountains community has a diverse range of people from a variety of cultures, religions and races.  Indigenous people, environmentalists, homeless people, refugees, people of diverse sexuality, retirees, performers and artists are all living here together.

We don’t often get the opportunity to interact with each other in a meaningful way and false assumptions about different groups can develop. Human Library Readers choose whom they would like to borrow from the book catalogue display in the foyer and come to the information desk to arrange the loan. The ‘loan’ will last for half an hour (30 minutes).  If Readers are not able to get the particular Human Book that they wanted to borrow, the librarians are able to direct them to another Human Book – this is one of the great things about the Human Library – a Reader may end up reading a book that they wouldn’t have necessarily chosen first and therefore having an experience that they wouldn’t have had the inclination or opportunity to otherwise.
The Human Library is an initiative of Cultural ConneXions in partnership with the Blue Mountains City Council.  The Blue Mountains Human Library is due to be launched on:

Harmony Day 2008 – 20 March 2008 (10.00am – 4.00pm) Harmony Day provides an opportunity for us to celebrate our successes as a culturally diverse society, re-commit ourselves to harmony and say “no” to racism.Since its inception in 1999 Harmony Day has grown into Australia ‘s biggest annual multicultural event. Harmony Day is held during the month of March, focusing on the 21st, which is also the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  THIS YEAR A FREE LUNCHTIME CONCERT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LIVING LIBRARIES with the Wollemi Aboriginal Dancers, Hands Heart and Feet, Ghawazi Caravan Performance and Mestizo (South American Rhythms)
TEL: 02 4758 7193