Human Libraries

I got my Public Libraries magazine in the mail and what did I find?


An article entitled: The Human Library: Sharing the Community with Itself


Here’s the abstract, so you know what human libraries are:

An overview of human libraries, programs that allow community members (“readers”) to “check out” other community members who have volunteered to be “books” for individual conversation.


What struck me when I initially saw it was that I already knew about them from my study abroad to Denmark.  As we were touring the Copenhagen Main Library, Christina Wandi told us about a program they had where during their Pride celebration, their books were people of all different sexual orientations and people could check them out to learn more about them.  She said they had a huge turnout, too many people in fact and that it was a huge success.  There were older and younger people alike who were interested in asking the “books” their questions.


I was so intrigued by the idea of a safe space where people can learn about each other.  In everyday life, one might be too shy to ask questions or have a fear of offending the other person, so I think this is a remarkable idea, especially for the topic of sexual orientation.  I could see it for other things like professionals being “checked out” by students.


There are so many possibilities and I can’t wait to propose this to the library where I work and the library where I volunteer!


Start your own human libraries!!


6 thoughts on “Human Libraries

    • What an interesting concept! I hadn’t heard about human libraries before. This might be a great way to do job assistance or for public libraries to do social awareness campaigns. The other day I was discussing the role of librarians within social justice/outreach. The dicussion was centered on survivors of violent crimes and crime prevention within our communities. This could be an interesting, more personal way of informing the public. I’m not sure if this could work at my small, career college library, but it’s definitely an innovative idea.

      – Jessica

      • I can definitely see this idea working for that. My undergrad was in Sociology so I really like your thinking. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for any library. It’s all about partnerships. Find some community agencies or put an ad out to the community. There are tons of people who want to share what they know…..that’s what keeps blogs going! 🙂

    • Yeah! When you become a member of ALA, pay like $15 to join PLA and you get it for free! It has all kinds of great articles.

  1. This concept for libraries is wonderful on so many levels. Not only that but I feel it could be applied in many other different fields, bring a lot of positivity and help society as a whole stop acting like ant’s and embrace what I feel is one of the most precious gifts we have in the world and that is basic human interaction. Great post I am very intrigued to learn more 🙂

    • I agree! The public library as a facilitator for human interaction. That’s essentially where they’re headed with providing meeting rooms and such.

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