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Human Library: For Readers

What to Expect

The reader goes to the Human Library registration desk in the gallery area on the main floor of the library and selects a book from a list of book titles and descriptions. You will register your choice and a volunteer will escort you to the human book in the reading room. Books share their personal story to a reader.  A reader is encouraged to ask questions or share as well. This conversation lasts 20 minutes. There is a handout with conversation starter questions in case you need some help figuring out what to say.  Be yourself and relax; it will also help the human book. When the book is due, the conversation ends and you are escorted back to the registration desk where you will fill out a brief survey about your experience. You are also welcome to borrow another human book.

Please note that you are welcome to come with friends, but there is a limit of three persons per human book. The conversation is intended to be personal and intimate.

Reader Rules

Rules for Human Library Readers

  • Only registered Readers who have read and accepted these rules may borrow books.
  • Readers can only borrow one Human Book at a time.
  • The Reader must be respectful in their questions and conversation with the Human Book.
  • The loan period is 20 minutes.
  • Readers must return Human Books in the same physical and mental condition in which they were borrowed. It is forbidden to damage the Human Book, to bend or tear its pages, or in any way damage its dignity.
  • The Reader accepts that the Human Book can end the conversation if they feel that the Reader is treating them in an inappropriate or disrespectful manner.
  • 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. All requests for further contact should be through the Human Library organizers.

Sample Questions for Readers

If the conversation lags, here are some sample questions that readers can ask.

  • Could you tell me about yourself?
  • What experience has had the most impact on making you the person you are today?
  • What is a typical day like for you?
  • Why did you want to become a Human Book? What do you hope to accomplish?
  • Do you wish you could go back in time to change a decision you made? Any regrets?
  • What’s a good thing happening in your life right now? What makes it good?
  • What were some of the more difficult aspects of your life? What made it difficult?
  • What do you do to have fun?
  • How do you deal with adversity?
  • Is there a community or support system that you’re part of?
  • Do you have any advice to someone going through a situation similar to yours?

Time Commitment

You can drop by anytime between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm to meet with a book. You do not need to arrive at the beginning of the event but do try to arrive no later than 5:30 pm. Depending on the number of people, there can be a line of readers waiting to talk to books. While you wait, you can review the list of books available and read through some event information. Conversations are scheduled for 20 minutes.