"Behind every person, there is a person that you know nothing about," I read this quote somewhere, a couple of days back. When I was going through the story of the Human Library Project, this was the first quote that struck me.
We human beings are living a life, where we make sure that our true selves are neatly kept hidden. We try to wear a mask, often with a fake smile or over-reactive expressions. But behind that, we carry lots of pains, emotions, failures and breakdowns. That's our true self, which we are scared of exposing to the world.
But, since we are all social beings, we always want someone to listen to our deepest thoughts and fears. We want someone to love us, to listen to us - that we are all vulnerable, that we have our share of fears, rejections and most importantly, we all have untold stories.
The Human Library Project is exactly about these narrations.
Some women have been sexually exploited, some women have been raped, some people have HIV positive and they are treated like untouchables, some people are homeless, others are refugees, and some women are polyamorous for a valid reason (loving multiple partners) – these stories want a lending ear. The Human Library makes sure that these people, instead of books, are available on loan, whom you can borrow and listen to their 'real stories'.
Stories that will move you, shock you and bring tears to your eyes. People are carrying so much inside them.
The Human Library is an attempt to bring people together, and accept the fact that we are all different. And that's what makes our planet a great place to live – yes, because we all are so diverse and there lies the beauty.
The Human Library is open for anyone who wants to tell his or her story, and be a Human Book. The process involves filling up an application form from the project's website, and once you are selected, you will be included in the library's Global Book Pool for storage, until the library reaches your city.
To become a reader, you just have to go to The Human Library's desk, check out a 'book' on a certain topic and have an allotted amount of time with it.
People who volunteer to become "books" make their experiences open and available, usually on issues that people find difficult to discuss with others. 'Readers' are encouraged to ask questions freely, and they'll get honest answers in return.
"This helped me better understand myself and honestly, I mean "Human Library", sounded kind of square to me, so I had never expected it to be such a powerful and moving experience."
Student from the Academy of Untamed Creativity in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"I went to an event several years ago in Connecticut and my husband and I still talk about it often. We'd love to host one in our town."
Sarah Jan Vertefeuille
Residential Assistant, Connecticut, USA.
The human library lets everyone sit together, talk about the stories which the world is wanting to hear. Do you have a story to tell? I am pretty sure you have one. Just remove the 'I am strong' facade. We all are vulnerable and imperfect. And don't judge human beings by their cover.
"This event helps the Museum facilitate public dialogue about important human-rights issues. Building linkages to the community and promoting human-rights education is an important part of our role."
Librarian - Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
This is what the website of the Human Library writes, "The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers. A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered."
I am all ears.
But the question is, why do we need a human library to tell our deepest stories? Probably because with the advancement in civilisation, people are getting limited to themselves, and eventually they 'need' to make themselves available in a library to tell their stories.
Something is seriously wrong with the world. What do you think?
The Human Library is an international organisation and movement that first started in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000 with the aim to challenge prejudice against social contact among people.
Similar to how a traditional library works, the Human Library participants can be checked out, at which point they engage in conversations and share real, true stories with public. The posters are made like real books and you can borrow a human, just like a book.
The titles sound interesting!!!
The Human Library Organisation is currently active in over 80 countries, including India. The organisation began when a series of living books were created for a festival run by Stop the Violence. The first permanent Human Library was established in Lismore, Australia in 2006. In India, the library is active in Indore, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
I am an open book, read me.
Do you have a story to tell? The world wants to hear that.
People who have experienced prejudice or been victimised due to race, sex, age, disability, sexual preference, gender identity, class, religion/belief, lifestyle choices or other aspects of who they are, are welcome here, writes The Hindu.
Read some of the real stories below.
"I want to help undo the fear of talking about this issue in the open. If by sharing my experiences like an open book I can somehow help others to better understand the taboo. Then something positive can come from this negative in my life".
"I live on the streets. I live from day to day and I have no roof over my head. No restroom to visit, no kitchen to make a coffee. I own very little and I am homeless."
"People don't like to think about it. Even less want to talk about it and it makes it very difficult for those who have been molested".
"I am not going to tell you how to love. I am going to tell you about love and how I have more than one love in my life".
"I left my childhood photos of a life I will never get back and I didn't have the choice except to leave it behind. I left a beautiful place that I called my home."
"Some people think it is dangerous to be near or to touch me. Some people avoid me just to avoid being confronted with the disease. It think nothing bad about them, but it is part of the reason why I kept it a secret for many years. When people are afraid to get close to me, it hurts more than the disease ever did."