chapter  4
24 Pages

Cultural Networks Strengthened

The Living Library initiative, renamed Human Library1 in 2010, was founded in Denmark to provide spaces for intercultural dialogue in order to experience the reality of lives different from one’s own. A Living Library allows visitors to experience first-hand the overcoming of prejudice against the ‘other self’, helping to create a more open culture, fighting to eliminate discrimination against people based on their ethnic origin, religion, belief, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability status (Figure 4.1). A Living Library works like any library: there are books to borrow, a catalogue of available titles, librarians, a reading room with chairs and tables for consultation and finally readers. The books, however, are people in flesh and blood who choose their own title based on one aspect of their identity, one which often leads them to suffer prejudice and discrimination. Each reader can reserve a book of their choice from the catalogue for a conversation of

about half an hour, during which the human book tells its own experience of life, answering questions from readers. It is a simple, flexible and engaging approach that has proved successful worldwide.