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The Human Library: an Un-Web 2.0 Post

This post is sort of off-topic (tech-wise) but I was filled with excitement after learning about the Human Library Project this week.

What’s it like to be an immigrant, a playwright or a devout Muslim?


We tend to surround ourselves with people who act like we do, talk like we do, and share our viewpoints rather than challenge them.  Social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace make it very easy for like minded people to find each other and share common interests.  Themed websites can have a similar purpose.  Interested in hamsters?  Go here to meet Belle and her ilk.  Belle has a mini-bio and her favorite activity is running in her wheel.

But where can people have a candid chat with people they’d normally never meet?  Enter the Human Library Project.  In the Human Library, people are on loan as living books.  “Readers” can browse a list of available "books," and then sign up for their "book” for 30 – 45 minutes.  It’s an interactive way to learn about diversity and issues within our community by “checking out” people with different life experiences in an effort to understand those experiences better.

If this kind of thing catches your fancy, here are some links that delve into this more deeply:

  • Distribution: A Human Library Google map is being developed to depict its distribution throughout the world.

  • Interviews with library staff: This MP3 (18 min) is a series of 3 brief interviews with library staff throughout the world whose libraries have offered human “books”.

  • Video: Here is a video of some Human Library encounters.

  • Soliciting human “books”: A London library solicits human “books”

  • Reserve your human “book” online: A Toronto library takes online human “book” reservations.

How would a human library go over in your community?


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