Read To Unjudge : The Human Library

What happens when readers have a session with living, breathing ‘books’ that are part of a Human Library? Readers discovered 10 very real stories about hardship, self-discovery and acceptance.


Readers learning about the art of drag from Kushboo the drag queen (@kushboothekween). Image credits - The Human Library, Bangalore.

Udbhavi Balakrishna

A library of living, breathing books, that tell you their story is perhaps every bibliophile's dream. And that is precisely what awaited eager readers at in the 13th Chapter of the Human Library, Bangalore. Held at the rooftop of The Hub, Safina plaza, on Sunday, December 15, this chapter marked the last one for the year 2019 and saw 10 "books" (actually, people) sharing their stories to different groups. The idea was to encourage readers to "unjudge someone today". This chapter touched upon topics such as abuse, sexuality and relationships, the art of drag, physical disability and mental health.

What is a human library?

Though the Human Library was established as a not for profit organisation 19 years ago in Copenhagen, Denmark, it is a relatively new concept in India. There are around 10 ‘human libraries’ in cities across the country. The purpose of such libraries is to attempt to remove prejudice and de-stigmatise several issues such as disability, sexuality and mental health and, create more spaces for open conversations. All this while throwing light on the various nuances and elements present in society, through a very human process - dialogue.

"This is the first time I'm being part of a human library as a reader, and I can't wait to interact with the ‘books’ and walk out with a whole new perspective and lots of learning," said one of the readers at the event, who wished to remain anonymous.

Contrary to popular belief that libraries require readers to maintain silence, this lively library encourages people to listen to and interact with the ‘books’ of their choice. Here, the readers can ask questions, in sessions of roughly 30-45 minutes each. They are also welcome to read several ‘books’ at the event, which usually lasts around three hours.

The books came from various socio-ethnic backgrounds, from different parts of the state and country, and mostly were in their 20s or 30s. The readers too belonged to a fairly diverse group, comprising students and young office-goers, as well as middle-aged people.

"I didn't know what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised. I loved how people came in completely stripped off their inhibitions as well as their judgments. Each "book" was a learning experience for me," said Deya Bhattacharya, a human rights lawyer who attended the event for the first time.

To know more about upcoming events organised by the Human Library, Bangalore, follow their Instagram(@humanlibrarybangalore), Facebook and Twitter (@humanlibraryblr) handles.

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