Become an open book for Human Library, concept that can bridge gaps among people

A Human Library event, such as this one held recently in Sweden, allows people to learn more about the experiences of people unlike themselves. (Photo: Human Library Organization)

The “Human Library” is coming to Cambridge, but first the Cambridge Public Library and Cambridge Community Television are asking people to volunteer as “Human Books.”

The Human Library, scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. May 5 at the city’s Main Library lets “readers” check out a Human Book for up to a half-hour to learn more about the experiences of people unlike themselves.

The partners have two questions to for “book” applicants:

Have you been subject to prejudice, discrimination or stigma based on who you are, where you came from or how you self-identify? Are you able to talk about your experience in a respectful conversation with others who are curious?

“The purpose of the event is to help people better understand others in their community,” organizers said in a Wednesday press release inviting applicants. The idea was not born in Cambridge, but as a violence-prevention tool developed as the “Menneskebiblioteket” for the 2000 Roskilde Festival held in Copenhagen, Denmark. More than 1,000 people checked out more than 50 human books over four eight-hour days at the festival, and the concept has since spread worldwide. (Lismore, Australia, held a Library monthly for years since its launch there in November 2006.)

The application process is online at surveymonkey.com/r/cambridgehuman. Applications are due no later than March 15, with applicants to be screened in late March.

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