What is the Human Library?

In a couple of weeks, we’re turning the Parlour Showrooms into a library. But it’s no ordinary library, this is a Human Library.

As part of The Parlour Showrooms‘ In the City project, we began to think about the role libraries play in society. In Bristol, where as one new library opens, another is threatened with being turned into a primary school, and our mobile library service is cut, it seems that libraries are never far from the news.

And so we decided that we would use our contribution to In the City to look a little deeper. We came across the Human Library via Wunderbar in Newcastle, who presented an iteration of the project in 2011 and invited them to collaborate with us and the Parlour Showrooms to bring the project to Bristol.

Following a call-out for contributors, we held a workshop last Saturday with all the participants to begin to build the library of ‘human books’.

But what is Human Library?

The concept was originally created by a group of Danish activists in 2000 for the Roskile Music Festival and since then it has grown and grown, to be active in 60 countries across the world. According to Human Library UK, the official representative of the Human Library Organisation in the UK, the project

“…is an international movement for social change, based around a concept that encourages us to challenge our prejudices through social contact.

“Just like in a real library, a visitor to the Human Library can choose a Book from a range of titles. The difference is that Books are people! Once the Reader has chosen a Book they sit down with their Book and engage in a short respectful conversation.”

You can read about how the whole process works on the Human Library UK site here.

How can I experience Human Library in Bristol?

Simply turn up to the Parlour Showrooms on 16 and 17 November and our librarians will help you choose a book. Each encounter, or reading, will take fifteen minutes and you can choose from a range of different ‘books’ from all walks of life across Bristol. More information on In the City and Human Library.