Human Libraries: Check Someone Out!

HumanLibrarylogoHow would you like to go to the library and check someone out? Not something, someone? While it sounds a bit like a dystopian novel, that’s exactly what the Human Library project is set up to do. Talk about a creative take on the concept of libraries!

At its core, the Human Library project is intended to reduce prejudices and increase understanding, by allowing individuals to interact with “people on loan” for conversation. The hope is, simply having the chance to converse with someone we view as different from ourselves will allow us to confront our own beliefs and biases. The Human Library began in Denmark but has organizations and events all over the world.

Another human library project, the Canadian Digital Human Library (dHL), has a broader mission. The Digital Human Library is a free educational resource that connects Canadian teachers and students with organizations and experts from all over the world. K-12 teachers can search for member content providers just as they would search for books in a library. dHL members can then be “borrowed” to collaborate with classroom teachers on an activity, lesson, or presentation.

I love both these projects, both because they provide fascinating opportunities in themselves and because they can inspire you to create a unique Human Library in your community. You could set up your own Human Library focused on the diversity in your community, or work to collect local human resources willing to be “checked out” for class lessons or projects.

Or perhaps better yet, consider how your students could create a human library of their own. Students from different cultures (perhaps with an adult partner) could share their experiences, providing the opportunity for moments of understanding among students. Or you could focus your library on traditional content. Imagine a project in which students become so expert on a person, event, or particular aspect of content, that they become the human book. Imagine a library event in which parents, other students, or community members could have the chance to “check out” individual students for 10 minute intervals. Students could decide on their book title and create their “Table of Contents.” However you do it, creating a human library has the potential to motivate students to examine—and present—content in new ways. And I suspect they will never look at a library in quite the same way!


One thought on “Human Libraries: Check Someone Out!

  1. I SO LOVED THIS IDEA! WOW! I really loved meeting new people because it’s really interesting. Of what they can share and of what there story is all about.. But I never thought of having an opportunity like this.. it’s just brilliant.. 😉 I hope we can get an event like this here in our country.. 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s