Knowledge - RISC

People are the books in a "Human Library"​

Created By RISC | 2 weeks ago

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You might know the idiom "Don't judge a book by its cover," telling us not to assess people on how they look. ​

​We are all molded by our environment, family, society, and culture in ways it can be tough to truly understand. ​

But what if strangers could experience our stories like a book? ​

"Human Library" is an innovative library set up in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000. It's a library to "read" people. Homeless people, immigrants, researchers, politicians, university professors, single mothers, people with disabilities, judges, security guards, prostitutes, and people with conditions from cancer to addiction, autism, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder tell the story of their lives. ​

You can just select the category you’re interested in, then listen to the person you choose in a secure space. You can talk for 30-45 minutes and get to know each other’s life or views. Free conversation without stigma or conflict can reduce disputes, bias, and build compassion across differences of society, religion, and culture. ​

Human libraries can now be found in 85 nations around the world. Rajamangala University of Technology Isan (RMUTI) in Thailand has one under the name "Thailand Human Library Network: THLN". You can request to "borrow" and "return" books, with each person having a different topic and conversation or teaching various skills. The primary goal is to share knowledge, ideas, and experiences with everyone who is interested. ​

One of the four parts of Thailand's National Health Act is "Social Well-Being". Reading humans by listening and building understanding and empathy is better than judging from the outside. ​

Story by: Chirapa Horbanluekit, Communication Researcher, RISC

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