On my very first day offering free listening this spring, someone told me about a library he'd heard about, where instead of checking out books, you could check out people. People with unique life experiences who are willing to talk about what it's like to be them.
Then last week I learned that there's a whole organization dedicated to helping people create these "human libraries" all across the world, with a huge variety of human books: People with unusual bodies and minds. People with nontraditional jobs and lifestyles. People of different ages, races, and sexual orientations. People who have had uncommon experiences of all sorts -- or common experiences that don't get talked about much.
The idea began in Denmark in response to an act of violence, with the explicit intention of breaking down stereotypes and building more cohesive communities. When I heard about it, I had the same response as I did when I learned about the Urban Confessional's free listening project: I have to do this.
I love it because it solves the problem of wanting to get to know different kinds of people, but not having an obvious or socially acceptable way to do it. It solves the problem, too, of wanting to share one's own story, but not knowing who would be interested. And it seems way more efficient and immediately gratifying than writing or reading a traditional book.
What do you think?
If you were a human book, what parts of your life might people benefit from knowing about?
If you were to check out a human book, what kinds of experiences would interest you most?
Would you be interested in helping organize a human library event in your area? If so, please get in touch with me. I would love to talk to you!