A Human Library is an event that takes place in different cities, often in libraries, throughout the country. On 29 April, the Human Library was organised in the Central Library of Rotterdam. EUROCLIO was present to perform a staff mission as Head of Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation in the Netherlands.

During a Human Library, people can borrow “human books”: real people with whom they can have an open conversation. What all human books have in common is that they encounter certain stereotypes and prejudices in their daily lives. The Human Library is a place where such stereotypes and prejudices can be challenged through an honest dialogue. All questions can be asked, by both “book” and “reader”, but both can also always refuse to answer. In Rotterdam, thirty-three human books were available, with “ titles” varying vary from “Ex-addict”, “Deaf” and “Soldier”, to “Homeless”, “Transgender” and “Refugee”.

The event in Rotterdam was well attended by a variety of people. Thirty-one enthusiastic volunteers made sure all “readers” found the “book” they were interested in and were set up at a table. “Reader” and “book” could have a dialogue of twenty minutes – that they could both end at any time –, after which the possibility of extending the conversation with ten minutes was offered.

In conversation with the human book titled “Buddhist”, we learnt about how and why this person got into Buddhism and how it had enhanced their life. Afterwards, a dialogue with a female “Police Officer” from Rotterdam was held. As there are often more than 25 human books that can be “read”, visiting a Human Library can be interesting for many people that are interested in having a conversation that they would otherwise not easily have.

If you are interested in visiting a Human Library or would like to see more photos, you can visit the website, or follow the Facebook page.

EUROCLIO, as Head of Network, intends to undertake more of such staff missions in order to enhance proximity with the network members of the Anna Lindh Foundation in the Netherlands. Any members that have events coming up, and would like to have the opportunity to talk with a representative of the Head of Network about their needs and requests are welcome to let them know by sending an email to annalindh.netherlands@euroclio.eu.

Photos by Martijn Bergsma