Human Library: Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

You're invited to check out a living, breathing book on February 8 at the Portola Valley Library - Community Hall. On that day the library will be hosting a Human Library, where the "books" are people with diverse experiences and stories to share with you, the readers.

Human Library Event
Saturday, Feb. 8, 11 AM-3 PM
Portola Valley Library - Community Hall
765 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA, opens a new window

What Is a Human Library?

The Human Library is a worldwide movement for positive social change. Started twenty years ago in Denmark by anti-violence organizers, today Human Library events can be found in over 80 countries worldwide at libraries, festivals, conferences, high schools, universities, and companies.

The goal of the Human Library is to challenge the misunderstandings that divide us from one another. We use intentional one-on-one conversations to deepen understanding, challenge bias, and strengthen our human connections.

How Does It Work?

At Human Library events the “books” are people—volunteers willing to share their lived experience with you. “Readers” check out “books” for an open-ended conversation lasting up to 20 minutes.

Human "books" give themselves their titles. Some of our "book titles" are transgender, poet laureate, surviving the streets and addiction, border humanitarian, addiction survivor, suicide survivor, police officer, veteran, surviving a liver transplant, and more. Sign up, opens a new window for a conversation today.

Volunteer “books” do not present, or give a speech; instead, they come ready to engage in conversation. Readers are encouraged to ask questions and share their perspectives. Your questions don’t have to be perfect but should be respectful to the “book” volunteer.

How to Participate

The Human Library creates a safe space for dialog where topics are discussed openly between our human "books" and their readers. If you're motivated to share the lived experience of another person—especially someone you might not otherwise have an opportunity to connect with—sign up for a 20-minute conversation on a topic of your choice.

During the conversation, you'll not only walk in the shoes of someone from your community, but you'll also break down barriers and unlearn prejudice.

What We Hope to Achieve

San Mateo County Libraries strives to ignite growth, celebrate diversity, and create spaces that support discovery, enrich lives and uplift the community. By offering a Human Library we intend to:

  • Demonstrate the value of dialogue to improve understanding.
  • Provide a safe platform to share another person's experience.
  • Create opportunities for listening, self-reflection, and empathy.

Do You Have a Story to Share?

If you or someone you know would like to participate in a future Human Library, please fill out our interest form. We will contact you with more information.