The Human Library, is a social innovation strategy aiming to promote dialogue, respect for human rights and the fight against stereotypes. In the Human Library, people “become” books which are “lent” for a conversation. In this sense, the “books” are people who interact with whomever is reading them in an environment of mutual learning. The protagonists are human books who share, face to face, their “previous history” marked by situations of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination with the clear objective of redefining interpersonal relationships and fighting against discriminatory behaviours.
Going beyond the life experience pertaining to any of the themes, the “books” are able to question the serotypes of their own group or of other groups.
The Human Library contributes to reinforce the place of the Library as a cultural facility which welcomes the community and establishes communication fluxes, at times unpredictable, between people who have had no previous contact, simultaneously promoting a space for positive experiences of otherness based on respect and appreciation for each one’s “previous history”.
Recognised in 2003 by the European Council for its innovative character and 18 years of existence in around 70 countries, the Human Library is an effective tool for social transformation and life improvement for the people involved, based on a cooperative learning process for “books” and readers. The Marvila Library received the 2018 Social Accessibility Prize, of the associação “Acesso Cultura” (Access to Culture Association), with the Human Library project. This prize aims to recognise entities and projects that stand out for their exceptional policies and good practices by promoting better access to cultural spaces and cultural offer. It was considered by the jury who attributed the prize to be a “powerful tool to fight against social isolation and exclusion”, stimulating “dialogue and proximity”, as well as a “means of formation and personal growth” to fight against illiteracy, further promoting participation of the population, contributing to equality of opportunities in an area of Lisbon that is particularly disadvantaged.