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Human Library: For Books

General Rules

  • Borrowing Human Books is based on mutual respect.
  • The reader should return the Human Book in the same mental and physical condition in which it was borrowed.
  • The loan period is 20 minutes. The Human Book or the reader can decide to end early.
  • The Reader cannot record or take photos of the Human Book without the Book’s permission.
  • The Reader is not allowed to ask the Human Book for personal contact information.

Book Guidelines

  • A good book has a conversation with readers rather than a lecture.
  • Prepare your role as a book. Be authentic as it is important for the reader's learning process. Keep in mind that you don’t need to tell everything. Think about what part(s) you can tell in five minutes. Consider a story that involves a dilemma or conflict you had to overcome. Then reflect on how you can use that story to help readers enrich their understanding of you and serve as an example of the community you represent.
  • To help you remember important moments of your story, consider bringing brief notes.
  • Be mindful of your time. You have 20 minutes. During the first five minutes, share your story. Use the remaining time to respond to questions, listen, and ask questions.
  • Be ready to share your personal experience. If the questions are inappropriate or make you feel uncomfortable, you do not have to answer them. See examples of how to respond to sensitive questions on the right column of this page.
  • Notify a volunteer if you need a short break, particularly after a challenging conversation. It is important that you are rested for the next reader.
  • Although volunteers will encourage readers to choose a book that will help challenge their stereotypes and prejudices, the reader might be curious or seek personal advice. You can share your opinion but be cautious about giving advice.
  • Be prepared to repeat the same information as it is likely that readers will have the same questions. Try not to appear that you've already answered the question multiple times.
  • Try to find out something about the reader. Some suggested questions appear on the right column of this page.
  • Feel good as a book! If you approach your role with the best motivation, it will be a rewarding experience for both you and the reader.

Sensitive Questions

If you feel your reader poses questions that are too personal or explore topics that you are not willing to share, feel free to let the reader know this.

Examples:

I am not comfortable sharing this, but what I can share is…

I hope to share this one day, but as of now, I am still working towards understanding…

I am sorry but your question is a bit too personal. Can we try another question?

Please note that there will be volunteers at the event to assist you. Should you need assistance, feel free to ask your reader for a moment and locate  a volunteer. We will be roaming the area.

Conversation Starters

If the conversation lags, you might consider asking the reader:

Why did you decide to select me (my book)?

What do you feel are assumptions people make about those who share my identity?

What would you like to know most about my story?

Is there any aspect of my story you are particularly curious about?