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ALA panel Human Library How-To: Home

What is a Human Library?

In a Human Library, people are books and the reading is a conversation!

A Human Library offers 'living books' to be checked out for a conversation.  Each human book is unique and has something to share regarding his or her experiences, perspectives, values, or beliefs.  Readers are invited to select books that offer new experiences and viewpoints so that both the book and the reader can learn something new and foster understanding through a shared conversation.


Short web article about USU Human Library

Utah Public Radio on USU Human Library

Internet Resources for Running a Human Library

ALA 2013 Human Library Panel Members

Julie Winkelstein
   University of Tennessee Knoxville  jwinkels@

Anne Hedrich
   Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University, Logan, Utah   anne.hedrich@

Alison Kastner           
   Multnomah County Library, Portland, Oregon  alisonk@

Colleen Leddy           
  Stair Public Library, Morenci, Michigan  cbtleddy@                  

Angela Neff
   Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University, Logan, Utah   angela.neff@

Why Hold a Human Library?

1. The Human Library was designed to "promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and promote understanding" (from A Human Library benefits everyone: The community, the organization (such as your library) and the human books and their readers.
2. The Human Library has received a variety of international awards, including ones from Denmark, Australia and Austria.
3. It is flexible, adaptable and can be used in a multitude of settings.

Finding and Preparing Human Books

Make sure books understand the event.

Recruit books with flyers, posting to your website, through personal contacts, and by contacting groups.

Provide a book orientation.

A Human Book Catalog

A catalog serves several purposes:

- it connects readers with books

- it makes a reading run more smoothly by providing an initial introduction to the topic of the human book

You can get ideas for how to design catalogs from websites for Human Library events.

Catalog for USU Merrill-Cazier Library's events

Event Logistics

When planning a Human Library, event logistics include:

Scheduling/ Staffing

Location/ Physical set-up

Materials (signage, other details/enhancement such as refreshments, t-shirts/how to identify books)


Press releases

Connecting with organizations

Strategies to increase visibility such as working with local radio personality

Register with the Human Library organization at

Put information on a website



Merrill-Cazier Library's Human Library website


1. Provide written evaluation sheets for the books and the readers.
2. Getting feedback gives you an idea of how your Human Library was received and how it could be improved in the future, including suggestions for other titles.
3. The books and the readers overwhelmingly find it to be a worthwhile experience, using words like honest, engaging, wonderful, fun and informative.