The Human Library: Real People-Real Conversations

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GOFFSTOWN, NH – What if you had the chance to acquire knowledge and understanding of contemporary, real life issues from those who live them?  What if, through face to face dialogue, assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices could be challenged?  The public is invited to do just that at the Goffstown Public Library on Sunday, April 9 from 1-3 p.m. when they will hold their third Human Library event. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to check out and converse with “human books” who have volunteered to share their personal stories and answer questions about their lives, experiences and perspectives. By providing a safe, respectful environment in which to conduct these conversations, it is the hope of the Human Library organization that a culture of acceptance will be cultivated.

From a diverse catalog which includes a transsexual physician, a woman who parented her children from prison, a Bhutanese refugee, a former county attorney who became opiate-dependent and a man who was paralyzed after an accident, guests or “readers” will be able to have one-on-one 15-minute conversations with these and other human “books.” Each book has a compelling story waiting to be told. Each has encountered adversity, and each has been the subject of marginalization or discrimination because of their lifestyle, religion, country of origin, differing abilities or gender identification.  The Human Library puts these real faces, real names and real stories to the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  Past human books have included a drag queen, lesbian rabbi, formerly homeless veteran and a blind social worker.

Organizers are happy to be part of a global movement that involves similar events in more than 70 countries around the world. Last weekend, public libraries in Baltimore, Chicago and San Diego hosted similar events. On March 27, closer to home, UNH Manchester held their third human library. Goffstown Library staff believes being a vehicle for the public to explore the humanity of different lifestyles or belief systems and choices is part of the job. 

The Human Library was conceived in 2000 by a Danish youth organization called Stop the Violence in response to intolerance and resulting violence within their communities. The concept quickly gained a foothold and since then, Human Libraries have been held in over 70 countries around the world. The initiative arrived in the US in 2008 with pilot programs in Washington and California. For up to date information about the Human Library project’s activities around the globe, follow them on Facebook or check them out at

For more information about the event scheduled at the Goffstown Library, please visit or call Sandy Whipple at 497-2102.


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!