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Human Library Event

Everything you need to know about the human library! Find information about what a human library is, what human "books" are, and how to participate as a "reader."

The Role of Human "Books"

What is the role of the Book in a Human Library?  The Human Library offers the opportunity to “borrow” a human for a brief, 20 minute one-on-one or small group conversation (There is no actual reading of print books)The human book shares his/her life experience with readers in an authentic way.  The book needs to be comfortable speaking as a member of the targeted group that he/she represents in a mature and reflective manner.  The book needs to focus on helping the readers to understand the subject more thoroughly without trying to persuade, convert, or condemn readers who hold different beliefs and values. The book needs to be open to respectful questions about his/her life experience which is relevant to understanding the topic.  The book needs to be honest but also free to decline to discuss matters not relevant to the topic or too personal. 

The book may need to prepare some factual information about the group he/she represents in order to answer questions or correct misconceptions that readers may have about the group. Books may also want to assess the reader’s curiosity at the beginning of the session by asking “Why did you choose my book?”  The response may help the book to determine the reader’s familiarity and interest.  Readers are not always able to frame their questions clearly so the book may need to help by asking the readers basic questions about their familiarity with the topic, such as:  Have they met someone like you before?  Have they had good or bad experiences with someone like you?  The book should also be prepared to repeat his/her story since there may be multiple readers interested in borrowing the book during the timeframe of the Human Library. 

The Book and the Reader should keep track of the time so as not to exceed the maximum period for checking out a book.  Another borrower may be waiting.  



Erie Community College. (2017). Human library libguide. Retrieved from

Human Books at the Burritt Library

Take a look at the books we've had here at the library so far!

Ideas for Human "Book" Topics

Interested in being a book, but not sure which one of your "stories" you would like to make available to readers? Below are some sample topics to help generate ideas. 


  • Transgendered people
  • Rehabilitated
  • Ex-convict
  • HIV positive
  • Child soldiers
  • Various Religions - (Muslims, Buddhist, Wicca, Voodoo, etc.)
  • Racially profiled people
  • Mental Health – (PTSD, ADD, ADHD, Bipolar, etc.)   

Career Related Living Books:

  • Active Military
  • EMT –  Dealing with Death & Dying
  • Solar City
  • Police Officer
  • College Professor
  • Male Nurse
  • Architect  

Human Interest Stories  

  • Cancer Survivors
  • Sexual Assault Survivors
  • Life after a Near Death Experience 
  • Tattoo Artist/Body Art
  • Homeless & Drug Addicted Person
  • Homeless with children
  • Single Fathers/Mothers
  • Teen Parent & College Student
  • Community Activist
  • Paternal Rights – Skewed Court Systems



Erie Community College. (2017). Human library libguide. Retrieved from

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