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Human Library, Aveiro, 9th of May

What Is Human Library?

The Human Library is an event that challenges prejudice and discrimination through social contact. It provides safe space for people to share their life stories with others in aim to erase stereotypes and prejudices and bring positive changes in people’s attitudes towards each other. Idea originated in Copenhagen, Denmark in year 2000 when youth organization named “Stop the Violence” organized it as an activity at Roskilde Festival. Soon, organizations around the world recognized the idea and by now Human Library events already happened in many countries. Human Library works as any other library – you browse book titles, choose one you want to read and then borrow it for certain amount of time. The only difference is that books are people with real stories and instead of reading the book you talk with the book!

Table of content

INTRODUCTION.. ………………. 5 MAKING OF ….………………...…6 OUR BOOKS ……...……………….9 WHO TOOK PART ........………....11 ON THE DAY OF EVENT..…....…12 OUR EXPERIENCE ………...........13 PARTICIPANTS’ FEEDBACK ......14

“Don’t Judge The Book By Its Cover”

Biblioteca Viva In March 2015 EVS volunteers of non-profit youth association Agora Aveiro decided to make Human Library in Portugal, for the first time in Aveiro. We found it challenging to organize an event like this in a small town. In May 2015 the idea was implemented.

Making Of “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story” Terry Prachett

We started by learning more about people and social groups around us. We wanted to have at least ten different life stories to offer to our readers. Finding people interested in project and convincing them to participate was not easy. After extensive search we managed to find six unique people willing to share their stories with citizens of Aveiro! We organized training for our books, where they met each other, thought of their titles and got prepared for the event. We created a logo of Biblioteca Viva, promotional materials (posters, flyers) evaluation forms for books and for readers to give us feedback. We also created catalogues for each book, inspired by old book covers. Each catalogue had a Book’s title, a photo of our Human Book and a short introduction in their story. We invited people to participate trough Facebook event and announcement in local newspaper. City Hall of Aveiro provided space for the event in the center during the local town fair.


Our promotional materials


6 Different Life Stories


Our Books Six people decided to share their stories with us.

Alexandre Almeida’s story, titled “There is a lot to see, if one wants to see” is a in inspiring story about possibilities and difficulties of visually impaired young man. Alireza Nazaritalooki is 32 year old student from northern Iran who shared his story about stereotypes he faces in Portugal, under the title “Don’t play with Middle East”. “Hungry child doesn’t care where his bread comes from” is a story about 20 years old Mohamed Kamara who escaped Liberia in search for better life.

Fernando Capela is a couchsurfer who decided to talk about hosting tourists in his apartment. His story was titled “You have friends all over the world, you just haven’t met them yet”. Our only girl “Adventurous volunteer” Gracinda Ferreira was answering readers’ questions about the Mission to Mars that she applied for few years ago.

Hugo Silva’s story “Happy cow” is a story about vegan lifestyle, about oppression, health and sustainability.


Aside from Books, Human Library wouldn’t be possible without…


Agora Aveiro Non – profit youth association that promotes active citizenship, culture, healthy lifestyles and positive values.

Volunteers We were happy we could rely on our Portuguese speaking volunteers who were communicating with citizens, attracting and explaining the idea to readers. They contributed a lot to the success of the event.

Readers We are proud to say that around 30 people decided to spend some of their time to talk to our Books and to learn about different lives and lifestyles.


On the day Our event took place on sunny Saturday, 9th of May, in front of Mercado Manuel Firmino, in the very center of our small town. There we placed reception table with Biblioteca Viva sign and all the materials, catalogues, flyers. Books were sitting around on chairs and blankets and atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed. Soon first readers started approaching and borrowing Books and for few hours all the Books were involved in vivid conversations.

Our books were “taken“ all the time during the event.


Our Experience

“A gram of experience is worth a ton of theory” Robert Gascoyne - Cecil

In the beginning we were a bit nervous about how all of it will be. We were afraid that people will not be open to speak with people who they never met and who are somehow different from them. But still, we wanted to give it a try. Preparations took us almost two months and when the day of event came we were excited and ready to open our Library. At 2 p.m. first readers started to appear. Volunteers were talking to people passing by and inviting them to participate. Soon all of the books were “borrowed”. The Library was open for four hours. During that time around 30 people took their chance to read one or more of our books. At the end of the day, we received many positive comments. Our Human Library was a success!


Reader “It is a great opportunity to hear someone’s different experience regarding life.”


Book “I would like to see this activity repeated more often. My interaction with readers was wonderful, and this opportunity should be given to greater number of people.”

Our Human Library was featured in newspapers.



Human Library (Aveiro, Portugal, May 2015)  

EVS volunteers of Agora Aveiro organised the first Human Library ever in our town. It happened on 9th of May 2015, with the presence of 6 hu...

Human Library (Aveiro, Portugal, May 2015)  

EVS volunteers of Agora Aveiro organised the first Human Library ever in our town. It happened on 9th of May 2015, with the presence of 6 hu...