Courageous conversations between books and their borrowers.
The Human Library is an international equalities movement that seeks to challenge prejudice and discrimination using the power of conversation. It connects communities and is gathering momentum across the world. There is now a Human Library in over 70 places including the US, China, Europe and the UK.
Human Libraries celebrate difference by connecting communities and encouraging a better understanding of people who come from varied cultural or lifestyle backgrounds. The initiative offers an important space for challenging implicit attitudes and unconscious bias.
Whether staff or student, the only qualification for participation is that you must be a human being!
How we began
The Human Library Project began in the Psychology department during Black History Month in October 2015 as part of a wider series of departmental ‘courageous conversations’ initiatives and events that aim to demonstrate how the university’s values are translated into practice.
To commemorate International Women’s Day in March 2016, another Human Library was run inviting staff from all Faculties to participate with the overarching theme of ‘Being Female’. Both male and female staff and students participated, with positive feedback about their experiences.
A third Human Library was run in April 2016 as part of a workshop at the launch of the Equality Challenge Unit’s Race Equality Charter Mark in Scotland.
At the Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG) ThinkTank in June 2016 we ran a Human Library as part of a workshop that explored intersectionalised experiences for BME female students in higher education, and in October that year, at the invitation of the Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation; Strategic Development) for Swansea University, another Human Library was run for staff.
We also celebrated Black History Month in October 2016 with two Human Libraries: one at Harrow Library, and the other at Cavendish.
The Psychology Department, Libraries & Curriculum Support, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Team are working collaboratively to plan and run more Human Libraries across the academic year.
How it works
In a library setting, participants ‘take out’ a self-titled human ‘book’ for up to 30 minutes of respectful and courageous conversation about their experiences of prejudice, bias, stereotype, stigma or discrimination.
Participants choose whether to be a ‘book’ or ‘borrower’, and are briefed on their role in the Human Library by the organiser. For ‘books’, making the book title is a creative and reflective process and serves as a trigger for conversation with the human ‘borrower’.
Afterwards, participants are invited to evaluate their experience.
When: 25 February 2020
Where: Cavendish Campus