Name of the Practice
“Živa knjižnica” (The Human Library)
Social integration, Other
Country - Area/Region
Slovenia – All regions (national scale)
Larger cities and towns
cca. 1 week to 1 month / practice (depending on local organisation)
Level of the practice
Type of activity
Partnership implementing the initiative
Promoted and initiated by the Legebitra Association. Implementation partnership with: Youth Cultural Centre Maribor, Youth Centre Podlaga - Sežana, DRPD Novo mesto, Pina Association, Pomursko društvo za krepitev socialnega dela, Društvo študentov invalidov Slovenije, Živa dvorišča, MARPROM d.o.o., OZARA d.o.o., UKM, Šolski center Slovenske Konjice – Zreče.
Contents of the practice
The method of the Human Library confronts the ‘readers’ with their own prejudices and stereotypical images and offers a concrete opportunity of face-to-face meeting with their own stereotypes. The ‘books’ in human library are actual representatives of different minorities, socially deprived groups or people that are facing prejudices in their lives, and are willing to speak about their experiences and share them with the visitors (readers) of the library. The main goals of such initiative are to highlight stereotypes, prejudices and negative consequences that exist in a certain society; to provide personal contact with diversity in a safe place; to raise awareness of the situation of socially stigmatized groups; to encourage a dialogue based on respect of human rights; to problematize and highlight the everyday reality of members of socially stigmatized groups (women, Roma people, LGBT, migrants ...); and to promote a constructive and productive dialogue between the various partners who constitute civil society. This practice enables an excellent opportunity for members of local communities to re-examine and self-evaluate their own views on the topics of stereotypes, xenophobia, stigmatisation, as well as encourage them to re-initiate a dialogue with representatives of marginalised communities. This method knows no gender, age or other boundaries for the ‘readers’ or the ‘books’. This tool is therefore a method for tackling prejudices towards the minorities, LGBT community, people with mental health issues etc. Our case of presenting ‘books’ was to give individual members of the refugee population in the city of Maribor a possibility to tell stories of their life and experiences, since they had to flee their home countries. Such practices provided an excellent opportunity for the members of the general community to ‘read’ and understand their narratives.
Evaluation of the practice
In our experience, the Human Library presents an innovative method of active dialogue which raises awareness and helps to educate on the topics of human values, human rights and encourages debate on prejudices and stereotypes in society. It reinforces recognition of professional skills and visibility of refugees among members of local population in the city of Maribor. Our case facilitated a culinary, language, knowledge and experience exchange between the representatives of the refugee community and Slovene nationals. By including members of the refugee community to certain activities of the practise, such as catering and story-telling, we were able to help raise awareness on that community, which lives in the city of Maribor. The culinary experience, for example, once again turned out to be a key ingredient for well-visited and successful event. The outcome and feedback from the general public was overall very positive. We did not encounter and major issues and constraints. The organiser, Legebitra Association and their implementors MKC Maribor provided full support and understanding to our contribution.
Adaptability/Replicability to other contexts
This good practice holds a high level of adaptability to any community/town/situation, where marginalised groups co-exist along with the general local population. The principle idea encourages organisers to be creative and inventive, and gives them a wide range of options of how the final output (the event) can look like, according to their financial/capacity abilities. The Human Library is also organised as a volunteering project that helps to strengthen and acquire skills for existing mentors and trainers.
The event can be as large as the organiser wants it to be. Also, the option is to create a multi-day event or/and an international event, giving a chance to other languages and cultures to express and represent themselves.
Related Web site(s) of the practice
Related reports and resources developed by the practice