Learning to Unjudge: How Human Libraries Are Fostering Inclusion Around the World

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As difficult an idea as it can be to confront, many of us have our own preconceived notions about different groups of people. As a result, we may judge others — and treat them differently — based on their race, gender, disabilities or other facets of who they are. Often, our prejudices can keep us from cultivating friendships or working with great people because we’ve formed ideas about them before we actually get to know them.

In an effort to change this all-too-common phenomenon — to help break down stereotypes and prejudices while fostering inclusion and open dialogue — Danish journalist Ronni Abergel founded an international nonprofit organization called the Human Library. Using the familiar analogy of a public library with books, Abergel and his partners created libraries of “human books” from diverse backgrounds and encouraged others to “check them out” — to speak with them about their life experiences.

The Human Library seeks to help people confront their biases and prejudices by facilitating face-to-face conversations with people from marginalized or different groups. The nonprofit organization has helped spark difficult but necessary discussions worldwide while ultimately transforming people's views on the need for diversity and inclusion.