Denmark’s Human Library is a unique social learning platform where the books are bodies and the tales are told by the real-life characters that lived them. Learn more about the Danish library in which you can borrow a person.
The Human Library is a registered international not for profit organization with administrative headquarters located in Copenhagen, Denmark. The secretariat is open on all weekdays daily from 10 am to 4 pm and can be reached via phone or email.
A safe space for dialogue
The library offers a safe space for dialogue, giving individuals the chance to ‘un-judge’ someone. Blind and hearing-impaired Andes Fransen also has a rare genetic condition that reduces his ability to sweat. “In my everyday life, it can be hard to connect with people,” said the 37-year-old. “I think they are afraid of things that are different from what they are used to.”
Too often, people face discrimination and prejudice stemming from stereotypes and stigmas surrounding their beliefs, ethnic origins, diagnoses, lifestyle choices, etc. These judgements are most frequently made by people who do not try to understand the individual standing in front of them and what their story is.
“I come to The Human Library because I want to give people awareness that behind my conditions, I’m a person,” explained Fransen, who has three titles in his human catalogue, including one called ’Special Handicap’.
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Dedicated to ensuring global implementation
The Human Library Organization (HLO) is dedicated to ensuring a global implementation of the Human Library as a learning platform. HLO is currently operational on six continents and hosts or is involved in activities in more than 80 countries. HLO also has the privilege of working with some of the larger brands in the world, helping them with their diversity and inclusion efforts.
The Human Library (Menneskebiblioteket) was created in Copenhagen by Ronni Abergel and his brother Dany and colleagues Asma Mouna and Christoffer Erichsen. It was first staged at Denmark’s Roskilde music festival. Today, you can select a book (i.e. a person) and borrow it for thirty minutes. During this time, you can listen to the person’s story and ask them all types of questions. On its website, the library explains that it acts as a safe space for dialogue and people are thus encouraged to ask everything they want to know.
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Wide selection of topics to choose from
On 10 October, the Human Library Organization held an event in its Reading Garden in Copenhagen. There, it gave people a wide selection of books to choose from as the program consisted of the following titles: OCD, PTSD, Misophonia, Lonely, Victim of Incest, Sexually Abused, Deaf-Blind, Rare Handicap, Bisexual, Craving Human Touch, Early Retired, Recovered Alcoholic, Bullied, High IQ, and Giving Child Up for Adoption.
“We looked for people that were homeless, unemployed, depressed, had mental health issues, had certain disabilities, they could help educate us,” explained Ronni Abergel.
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Events in over 80 countries
In a period when face-to-face communication has been hard to come by, many will find this connectivity valuable as well as being educational. To date, the Human Library has held events in over 80 countries in libraries, museums, festivals, conferences, schools, and universities. What is more, it offers diversity training for companies that seek to raise social and cultural awareness at the workplace.
The Danish Library In Which You Can Borrow A Person written by Tor Kjolberg
All images (c) The Human Library