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Vince Laws joins the Human Library / 19 June 2010

Crippen cartoon of a wheelchair-user under a desk

Crippen's Human Library cartoon

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I’d never heard of the Human Library until I was asked to be a ‘book’ in February as part of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) History Month. As it happens, that event was cancelled, but I liked the concept so much I went on the training course and held a Human Library within a 2-week art exhibition I curated in May/June. Instead of borrowing a book, visitors borrow a Human, and sit down with them and chat for 30 minutes.

Titles at my event included Wiccan Priestess, Evacuee from Nazi Germany, Humanist, LGBT Christian, Owning a Guide Dog, Ex-Addicts, New Traveller, Science Fiction Fan, and Police Community Support Officer.

The idea began in Denmark less than a decade ago in response to another mindless knife attack on the streets. How could different groups of people be brought together, be given the chance to sit down and talk and ask anything they like – in other words, be given the chance to dispel their own prejudices?

Human Library staff help visitors select a book from the titles available, introduce the book to the reader, and read both the Rights of the Book, and the Rights of the Reader, making the experience as safe and comfortable as possible.

I’m interested in happenings as art, but often the concept is more beautiful than the outcome. The Human Library is such a beautiful idea, and the conversations and exchanges that take place more than live up to the concept. I urge you to check the Human Library website, find the nearest event, and treat yourself to a beautiful conversation.

Everyone is different
And everyone’s the same,
Because we all came from
The same ball of slime.

A long time ago
Before you were born,
Creepies came crawling
Over the lawn.

Some Creepies grew lungs
And some Creepies grew legs,
And some had aerials
On their heads.

Some Creepies swim
And some Creepies squeak,
But all of us Creepies
Are completely unique.

So if someone tells you
You’re not the same,
Nod your head wisely
And remind them, they’re slime.