Human Library


The Human Library is a worldwide organization that aims to create bridges of understanding between individuals. This file contains a how-to and some sample forms and other resources that the Nelson Public Library has developed for our event, which is registered with Human "books" are real people who may be checked out by borrowers for a one-on-one conversation, and are typically people who have experienced prejudice or stigma or have felt misunderstood due to personal circumstance, ethnicity or nationality, sexual identity, disability, religion, etc., which differentiates the event from a "Living Library", which may involve "books" with any sort of story to tell. We've found this event to be profoundly inspiring for both books and borrowers. We've run it as an adult event and also brought it to a high school class.
Source Library

Program promotional materials

Length of program session

> 120 minutes

Number of sessions





Anne DeGrace, Nelson Public Library

Primary Audience

Senior Secondary (Gr. 11-12 or aged 17-18)

Community partners

We partnered with a local bakery for refreshments, and coffee roastery for coffee and for thank-you cards for gifts. We partnered with our local high school to bring the event there.

Budget for this program

$100 (thank you/refreshments). All printing done was in-house.

Resources required (materials/supplies; food/refreshments, etc.)

Lots of time! This involves lots of public education and promotion, training of the individuals who will be "books", development of posters, signage, and handouts. Refreshments served at the event itself. There needs to be space for several one-on-one conversations to occur simultaneously.

Copies of program publicity (newspaper articles, letters of appreciation, participant feedback, etc.)

Feedback from Participants

Books feedback (highlights):
• Support of staff and volunteers: all said excellent
• The borrowers were very respectful and interested
• Borrowers benefitted by learning that no matter how dark things may become there is always a way out.
• Would recommend being a book because it gives you the opportunity to share an important aspect of your identity with others.
• Being “read” showed me how little I have really thought about my own gifts and abilities.
• Through my “borrowers” I was at one time or another a shoulder, an interview (for the Star), an entertainer, and participant in a mutually enjoyable exchange.
• If it opens up the eyes of other people to see they can do what they want in life, that makes me feel good.
Borrower feedback (highlights):
• 100% or respondents said they would return
• Expanded my thoughts
• I was reminded to live my life with love and peace
• Learned about dyslexia; my book was incredibly honest
• Communication on a very personal level
• I learned that it is possible to transcend any tragedy
• I liked being able to engage with people I’d never otherwise meet

Highlights - what worked well?

The "books" felt empowered, respected, and appreciated; "borrowers" reported feeling inspired and learning new things. As a program initiator, this made me feel great!

What were the goals/objectives of your program?

Create a meaningful interpersonal event of exploration and discovery towards a greater understanding between people. Promote the library as a social hub and a place where extraordinary programming can happen; a place of safety and respect.

What would you change about this program?

Public education is a challenge, because people don't understand what it's all about, or feel intimidated, that they'll be put on the spot. It's difficult to communicate how safe and friendly the event feels. I hope this will become easier each time. I would also like to develop a "reading shelf" of "human Books" would like to participate every year.