More

Check out a human library, where you borrow people instead of books.

A surely unforgettable experience reaching all corners of the world.

Check out a human library, where you borrow people instead of books.

There are libraries popping up around the world where you can see the books breathe.

You can watch the books blink, cry, laugh, and think. You can ask them any sort of question and get a real answer.

It's what the books hope you'll do.


The library desk at the 2015 Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark. All images via the Human Library, used with permission.

At the Human Library, the books are people!

It's set up just like a normal library: You check out a "book" on a certain topic and have an allotted amount of time with it. Only at the Human Library, the book is, well, a human.

People who volunteer to become "books" make their experiences open and available, usually on issues that people tend to have a difficult time discussing. "Readers" are encouraged to ask questions freely, and they'll get honest answers in return. It's brilliant.

What kind of books can you borrow there?

1. Borrow a person with autism.

With 1 in 68 kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) today, there's no better way to learn about it than by interacting with someone who has it.

2. Borrow someone who has modified their appearance.

Ever make assumptions about people with lots of piercings and tattoos? Here's an opportunity to stop judging a book by its cover and get to know the inside.

3. Borrow a refugee and hear their story.

You've heard about the Syrian refugee crisis in the news. Why not put the media on hold and talk to an actual refugee?

4. Borrow someone who is transgender.

Perhaps you've always had questions about being transgender but didn't know how to ask them. Go ahead. Get your questions ready.

5. Borrow a homeless person.

What stories do they have of a life you may never know?

6. Borrow someone with deaf-blindness.

Just because they communicate differently doesn't mean their stories are less.

7. Borrow someone who is obese.

Society loves to put people in categories. Break through those boundaries to get a fuller picture.

You can borrow a police officer. A veteran with PTSD. A single mom. A Muslim. Someone in a polyamorous relationship. A former gang member. A sex worker. A welfare recipient. A teacher. The list goes on.

The libraries are bringing people who would otherwise never interact together in a way that many communities long for.

That's what Ronni Abergel has sought to do since the library's launch in 2000. During a four-day test run at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, organizers and festival attendees were stunned at the event's impact.

"The policeman sitting there speaking with the graffiti writer. The politician in discussions with the youth activist and the football fan in a deep chat with the feminist. It was a win-win situation and has been ever since," Ronni said on the Human Library's site.

A no-judgment zone is one key to its impact.

"It's meant to be a safe space to ask difficult questions and not to be judged," he told Welcometoterranova. "To try and gain an important insight into the life of someone you think you know something about, but..."

You don't.

It's been 16 years since that first library event in Denmark. Today, the library has spread to over 70 countries (including the United States!), with openings in South Africa, Sudan, Chile, and Israel planned for 2016.

In our quick-to-judge, increasingly polarized world, it's no wonder these events are growing in size. We need them.

When asked what has changed since these events started, Ronni responded, “The world has changed, for the worse.”

He points to there being less tolerance, less understanding, and less social cohesion than when he first had the idea back in 2000. And unfortunately, he's right.

When we have states discriminating against transgender people using the bathroom, presidential candidates campaigning to ban an entire religion from entering the United States, and countries still facing stigma around Ebola, it can be hard to want to high-five humanity.

There's so much to learn about one another. A group of readers here borrowed a nudist.

It's time to face our fears and confront our stereotypes. To embrace the diversity of this world will allow us to feel more secure in it.

"When you meet our books, no matter who you are and where you are from or which book you will be reading, in the end, inside every person, the result will say: we are different from each other, we see things differently and we live life differently. But there are more things that we have in common than are keeping us apart." Truth.

If there's one immediately impactful way to bring communities together, a Human Library might just be it.

This snapshot from an event at the University of Victoria is a great example of why.



True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

Sir David Attenborough has one of the most recognized and beloved voices in the world. The British broadcaster and nature historian has spent most of his 94 years on Earth educating humanity about the wonders of the natural world, inspiring multiple generations to care about the planet we all call home.

And now, Attenborough has made a new name for himself. Not only has he joined the cool kids on Instagram, he's broken the record for reaching a million followers in the shortest period. It only took four hours and 44 minutes, which is less time than it took Jennifer Aniston, who held the title before him at 5 hours and 16 minutes.

A day later, Attenborough is sitting at a whopping 3.4 million followers. And he only has two Instagram posts so far, both of them videos. But just watch his first one and you'll see why he's attracted so many fans.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


There are very few people who have had quite as memorable a life as Arnold Schwarzenegger. His adult life has played out in four acts, with each one arguably more consequential than the last.

And now Schwarzenegger wants to play a role in helping America, his adopted home, ensure that our 2020 election is safe, secure and available to everyone willing and able to vote.

Shortly after immigrating to America, Schwarzenegger rose up to become the most famous bodybuilder in history, turning what was largely a sideshow attraction into a legitimate sport. He then pivoted to an acting career, becoming Hollywood's highest paid star in a run that spanned three decades.


Keep Reading Show less

One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less