The first Human Library took place at the 2000 Roskilde Festival in Denmark and since then the movement has spread to over 70 countries around the world.
Although the first event was in 2000, the story of the Human Library really begins in 1993, when five teenagers – Ronni Abergel, Erich Kristoffersen, Asma Mouna, Thomas Bertelsen and Dany Abergel created a Youth NGO called Stop The Violence.
Sadly, their inspiration to form Stop The Violence was motivated by the brutal stabbing of a mutual friend in Copenhagen. By forming Stop The Violence they sought to reduce youth violence and challenge some of the negative stereotypes of young people in Denmark that had surrounded the reporting of their friend’s attack.
By 2000, Stop the Violence had over 30,000 members and had organised a range of engagement and awareness-raising activities across Denmark. That very year Leif Stov, the Director of the Roskilde Festival, asked Stop The Violence to create an activity that would challenge prejudice, encourage dialogue and build positive relationships between festival-goers at the 2000 Roskilde Festival.
Ronni Abergel, Asma Mouna and Christoffer Erichsen created the ‘Human Library’ – an event where different sub-cultures groups that are often hostile to one another, could connect, engage and and converse. They recruited so many volunteers from the festival-goers that the first ever Human Library featured a record 75 Human Books! Like today, the first Human Library reflected the principles of inclusion and choice – representing a wide range of different cultures, ethnicities, identities and beliefs. And like today, every volunteer at the first event was willing to share life experience with others. And so the Human Library movement was born… and we’ve never looked back!
In 2008 Ronni Abergel founded the Human Library Organisation in Copenhagen, which promotes and develops around the world. The Human Library is now active in more than 70 countries worldwide and active on every continent. For more information about the international Human Library movement click here.