Hackney Human Library

24 hours to design and build a (human) library.

On the 25th July, Year Here advisor and all-round guru of community development, Sophie Howarth set the fellows a challenge to create a Human Library in Hackney Town Hall Square.

Given just 1 day to complete the task, this was the first of what may well turn out to be a Year Here institution: the 24 hour challenge.

A Human Library is a mobile library set up as a space for dialogue and interaction – the first one being set-up in Denmark. Visitors are given the opportunity to speak informally with people on loan (the “books”) who have extraordinarily diverse experiences – from the asexual to the war veteran. The Human Library, as described on humanlibrary.org “is a concrete, easily transferable and affordable way of promoting tolerance and understanding”.

After the challenge was set in the early evening, fellows stayed up till midnight calling journalists, building a website and coming up with a theme for the event. The fellows decided that a great way to put people at ease would be to recreate a homely setting, and from this grew the ‘share a bed with’ theme. On the day of the challenge, fellows spent much of their time running around London and sourcing four beds, several armchairs and gazebos, among other things.

“You end up finding common ground despite what you thought you were going to talk about”

With a little audacity, a lot of hard work and a few energy drinks, fellows managed to bring together all sorts of Hackneyites and visitors to have interesting conversations that challenged stereotypes, blurred boundaries and forged unlikely connections.

See also:

Human Library’s books and bookworms aim to combat prejudice – Hackney Gazette, 31st July