People as Open Books: A Place to Ask Questions About Difficult Issues
Welcome to the Human Library: A live event developed by the Human Library Organization in Denmark, during which a human "book" engages in conversation with (or is "checked out" by) a human "reader."
A human books speak to their lived experience as a person who is commonly judged by society for some aspect of their existence. The prejudice they experience could be based on anything from their religion, physical or cognitive disability, appearance, lifestyle, etc. The purpose of the conversation is to build awareness, understanding and empathy - to "Unjudge Someone."
About Arlington Public Library's Human Library Event
Saturday, April 29, 12 - 4 p.m.
This event provides readers (event attendees) with an opportunity to converse directly and to learn from those with lived experience that we may have little knowledge of or would like to know more about.
We have developed a diverse collection of human books from our neighbors and community in Arlington and the wider DC metro area. Examples of the invited human books include:
- “Survivor of Domestic Abuse”
- “Previously Incarcerated”
- “Have Bipolar Disorder”
- “Have PTSD”
- “Previously Unhoused”
What to Expect at the Human Library Event
This is an in-person event where you can “check out” a human “book” for a 30-minute conversation. The book will introduce themselves and tell you a little about themselves before you begin to ask questions. If a book you would like to read is not immediately available, you can place a hold for a later timeslot.
Readers in a family or small group can check out a book together.
All books and checkout periods will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Code of Conduct
Human Library Particiaption Expectations of Behavior
- Treat books with dignity, respect, care, and courtesy.
- Keep an open mind. Do not express or act on the very prejudices and stereotypes that the Human Library seeks to dispel will not be tolerated. (e.g., homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, sexism, transphobia, ageism, ableism, sizeism etc.)
- Behave in a manner appropriate to Arlington Public Library. We will not tolerate inappropriate behavior such as being drunk, high, sexual, abusive, aggressive, violent in tone or action.
- Evangelizing or proselytizing your views, beliefs, politics, or lifestyle is not permitted. Discussion and respectful debate are fine; recruitment is not.
- Do not request personal contact information from books or readers during this event. If you wish to contact a book or a reader, please pass your message through our Librarian organizers.
- Avoid inappropriate verbal language and physical gestures.
- Get consent for physical embraces and greetings from books you don’t know or have not met before. Some books may not welcome invasion of personal space, may have touch phobias, and/or may have differing cultural norms for greetings.
- Threatening or intimidating behavior towards others, whether physical, verbal or psychological, will not be tolerated.
- All discussions are confidential. Do not maliciously gossip or reveal disclosures by books outside of their publicly available information.
- Be sensitive to how humor lands - check-in with people to confirm they are okay with humor, teasing, jokes, etc., particularly if they are looking uncomfortable.
- Do not be deliberately offensive. If you take offense at something, realize it may be unintended or accidental, and if you feel able to, try to confirm the context and whether cultural or communication differences may have accounted for it.
- Raise and report issues with librarians and organizers if you feel unable to raise it directly with your book or reader.
- Build bridges not barriers; park your prejudice.
- We are all human, and on journeys to both know ourselves and to be known. We will make mistakes, mostly unintentional. Take responsibility, apologize, check-in, move on.