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Friday 27 February 2015

What is the Human Library?

Face your prejudice. That was the challenge set by Southampton Solent University’s Human Library on 24 February 2015.

A global initiative that aims to create more social cohesion and respect for diversity and human rights, the Human Library is a concept that attempts to challenge prejudice through conversation. It provides an interactive experience in which readers can loan out a living, human book to then discuss their chosen subject.

Organised by the University’s Student Equality Forum, book borrowers were able to choose from a variety of titles including an anarchist, a Catholic mother of gay woman, an ex-drug user, a dyslexic, an Eastern European, a female priest, a gay man, a mental health sufferer, a Muslim, a Paralympian, a single lesbian mum, a trans-woman and a witch.

The event organiser Ben Lindsay said: “This is Southampton Solent University’s first Human Library event and staff, students and external stakeholders have come together to make the event possible. We’re really pleased with the range of book titles available to readers and conversations have been non-stop.”

Known only by their book titles, one book said: “There’s been a lively curiosity in the conversations taking place” and when asked about their experience, one reader said “I’m glad I came. It’s certainly opened my eyes. I thought I knew what a certain book might look like or say but actually, it’s brought it home that whatever their book title, they’re just another human being.”

When asked about his motivation for taking part in the event, another book said: “It’s important everyone has a voice”. He also gave one piece of advice: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”