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Imagine walking into a library full of breathing, blinking, crying, laughing, thinking, speaking – even walking —  books! Imagine being able to ask any question you like of these books and getting an answer tailored to the nuances of your request; only, they aren’t really books, they are actual people! Now, thanks to the work of an incredible organization, you can check out a person as you would a book to find out more about their unique stories.

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How Does A Human Library Work?

A human library is set up quite similarly to a normal library, in that you pick a topic which you would like to know more about and have an allotted time with your ‘book’ to learn about it before it must be returned. The downside is, unlike a book, you don’t get to take that person home with you.

“It’s meant to be a safe space to ask difficult questions and not to be judged,” Ronni Abergel, founder of The Human Library, told Upworthy. “To try and gain an important insight into the life of someone you think you know something about, but… You don’t.”

Specifically At The Human Library In Denmark, You Can Borrow…

1. A person with Autism: The rate of children being born with autism today is at an all-time high, and talking with someone directly who has it could certainly help you understand the ‘disorder’ a bit better.


2. A person who has modified their appearance in some way: Do you ever see someone with numerous tattoos, piercings, or other various body modifications and assume something about them? Now is your chance to put your judgments aside and learn who these people really are underneath the tattoos, and discover why they choose to decorate their bodies in this way.

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3. A person who is a refugee and has escaped their country: Wouldn’t it be great to hear what is actually going on through the eyes of a refugee instead of what the mainstream news is telling you?


4. A person who is transgender: Whether it is something you agree with or understand or not, you may wish to know more about transgenderism. Perhaps you feel like you can relate and have questions about what it’s like to make the transition — this would be a great chance to ask them, free from judgement.


5. A person who is homeless: A homeless person is bound to have an interesting story for how and why they became homeless in the first place. Was it circumstantial? Was it a choice? They are people too and are sure to have surprising answers to a lot of your questions.


6. Borrow someone who is deaf and blind: You are bound to have endless questions about the struggles of being deaf and blind, and now you can find out more and likely hear some fascinating stories as well.


7. Borrow someone who is obese: Instead of making judgemental assumptions about people who are obese, why not ask them directly what you think you know and discover the truth about their struggles (or lack thereof)?


There are also many other ‘books in the human form’ you can borrow from the Human Library.

“The policeman sitting there speaking with the graffiti writer. The politician in discussions with the youth activist and the football fan in a deep chat with the feminist. It was a win-win situation and has been ever since,” Ronni said on the Human Library’s site.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is a fantastic idea! It is such a great way to bring people together who otherwise might not have had the chance. Maybe you’ve seen certain types of people walk by and you’ve always been curious to ask them questions about their unique situations but didn’t want to be rude, or felt awkward about it; now you can put that aside and ask all the questions you want.

You may surprised to learn that the Human Library has actually been around for 16 years already. The first library event took place in Denmark, but today, the library has spread to over 70 countries, with openings happening this year in South Africa, Sudan, Chile, and Israel.

The People Of The World Are Disconnected Now More Than Ever

With people becoming increasingly disconnected because of various events taking place across the globe and even social media and other technologies, the need for human libraries is great. There is so much fear and discrimination around other cultures, races, and people who simply choose to live a ‘different’ lifestyle, and it really is time to embrace the diversity in this world. Because if not now, when?

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