Being a Reader at the Human Library is an unrivalled privilege.
Can you think of another situation where you would feel comfortable asking a stranger direct questions about their life and background? As a Reader at the Human Library you are encouraged to have a conversation like this.
You may have unexpectedly walked into your local library or community centre and seen the Human Library, or come down especially. You are then presented with a series of choices: do you want to take part? Which Book would you like to borrow? What questions would you like to ask? As a Reader you get to choose at every step.
Being a Reader can feel a little strange at first. You may not know what to ask, or how to start the conversation. You might feel uncomfortable asking some questions because you might not want to offend the Book or ask something that is ‘politically incorrect.’ As a Reader we want you to feel as comfortable as possible asking the questions you want to ask. That is why we read the ‘Rights of the Book and Reader’ before the conversation starts, stating that you can both ask questions of each other and both have the right not to answer.
In the Human Library, as long as it is respectfully done it is ok to ask ‘Migrant Worker’ why they chose to live in the UK. It is ok to ask ‘Homeless’ why they don’t have a home. It’s ok to ask ‘Refugee’ how they became a refugee, to ask ‘Depression’ what depression is like for them, and to ask ‘Young Single Mum’ where the father is. The Book may choose not to answer, but it is still ok to ask.
This privilege is made possible because Human Books have given Readers the permission to ask any question. You may be surprised to know that Reader’s often feel liberated – free to ask those questions we feel uncomfortable asking in everyday life, but are nonetheless valid and important. From a Staff point of view, the hardest thing is often not getting the conversations started but bringing them to a close!