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Read the humans: Human Library

The Human books  

There are books, e-books then there are audio books. Ever heard of books you can interact with? Or a Human Library? Human Library is a library of people, it replaces books with human beings. The concept might be new here but the first human library started in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000. It is an international organisation that aims to challenge prejudice against social contact among people. “The Human Library is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. It is a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered,” explains Harshad Dinkar Fad, founder of Human Library in Hyderabad. At present Human Library Organisation is currently active in over 60 countries.

Stories and conversations

The concept is similar to that of a traditional library. If book is read and discussed or shared among like minded readers, the Human Library has people engaging in conversations. Like books, participants of the Human Library can be picked from a list to engage in conversations and share stories on a one on one basis. A couple of readers opting for the same living book or even with a group. .

Harshad, a student of media marketing at a private institute came across the concept of Human Libraries on the internet. His curiosity led him to the discovery that there is a listed Indian chapter of Human Library. “The first Human Library in India that was set up in Indore is still going strong. I liked the idea and began work to set up the Human Library in Hyderabad. The goal of this event-based programme is to help people appreciate others’ differences, understand social barriers by listening and relating to their experiences,” he explains. The Hyderabad chapter that opened this March has had two events so far.

Talking about what to expect in a Human Library, Harshad says that anyone can be a resource or a living book. “Anyone with a unique story to tell. The living books here are people who have experienced prejudice or been victimised due to race, sex, age, disability, sexual preference, gender identity, class, religion/belief, lifestyle choices or other aspects of who they are. People who visit, borrow these living books, have a conversation with them and leave with a widened perspective on different social groups in our society.”

Speaking of how the programme has been received so far, Harshad says he has been lucky as the news spread word of mouth; within no time he has enough resource persons to begin with. All cases of people who sign upare verified to ensure they are genuine, “As a result the first meeting was a major success. Readers needed to know that they weren’t the only ones suffering alone. Some came out of curiosity and some came to connect but none ridiculed the books. Most of them went back with positive words for the books and assured them of their friendship when in need,” says Harshad.

Surviving abuse

Of the many topics covered by the Human Library in Hyderabad, is one on Surviving Domestic Violence. It is about Saroja who has been a victim of domestic violence for over 12 years. She took a bold step and approached an NGO and from thereon could gather courage to say No to abuse, Subsequently she got out of the abusive relationship and is now managing her life and taking care of her 2 daughters all by herself. “She is so bold, courageous and positive, which makes us feel so encouraged every time we meet her,” says Harshad.

Human Library isn’t just a book you read without thinking. The dialogues leave a strong impression of changing the stereotypes.

Harshad is planning to spread Human Library to other cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Gujarat as well.

HUMAN LIBRARY

Who can attend: Open to all

Where is it situated: It is not a fixed physical library, it is mostly event based.

How to connect: Through their Facebook page

Who can be a book: Anyone who is a victim of prejudice. Who has a story to tell to make a difference to readers.

Call 8806312533

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Printable version | Nov 20, 2020 12:20:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/read-the-humans-human-library/article18303622.ece

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