Pune gets novel human library

Neha Basudkar
Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Pioneered in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000 by Ronni Abergel with his three associates, the library is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through a dialogue. 

Pune: Have you heard about ‘human books’? If no, then the novel concept has just arrived in the city in the form of a human library, where one can borrow a ‘human book’ instead of a hard copy of a book for around 30 minutes. You can ask questions to these ‘books’, who would help you in dealing with various issues in life and gain knowledge on a particular subject.

A mobile human library was started in Pune on Sunday (June 18). The Pune Chapter is led by the Global Harmony Trust.

Pioneered in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2000 by Ronni Abergel with his three associates, the library is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through a dialogue. 

It soon expanded to around 80 countries thereafter. In India, it was first introduced in Indore in September 2016, in Hyderabad in February this year, in Mumbai more than two weeks ago and now in Pune and Delhi on June 18.  The Human Library Pune Chapter has published 15 human books, with whom 75 readers have interacted.

The human books or volunteers include a visually challenged man, two paraplegic men, an innocent person, who was mistakenly put behind bars for several years, a radio jockey, a 90-year-old person and others, who have experienced rough times in their lives, but did not lose hope.

To register, a reader has to fill a form. They are then given a presentation on the concept. Then they are allowed to choose a human book. Accordingly, each reader spends around 30 minutes with a human book of their choice.

Explaining the concept further, Navneet Mittal, Chairman, Global Harmony Trust and Founder of Human Library Pune Chapter, said, “This library is not a book library, but a one-to-one interaction with readers, who are facing hardships in their lives. For over five months, we were looking for volunteers, who could share their experiences. This would be a lesson and a positive talk for others. For this initial stage, it will be a mobile human library. In the coming months, it will have a fixed place in some library or in a college.”

We selected the human books on the basis that they must have gone through some uncommon challenges, which they have overcome in their lives. It should also be inspiring for others so that people could take a lesson from it. Each human book has a title like a regular book. We get to live our life only once. Why can’t we share our life experiences with other people?,” said Mohan Mehta, who was behind bars for 16 years.

He said, “I got enrolled through a suggestion from a friend of mine. The experience of being a human book is exciting, because I do not know beforehand what question will be asked to me. As I share my experience with readers, they get to know the importance of life. They start to believe that whatever happens, we have to continue with our lives the way it is and to not end it in any manner.”

A reader, who participated in the novel programme, said she got a positive lesson about life, which can teach many things. Eishna Mittal, Co-ordinator and reader at the human library, said, “Being a reader, I got to know many unknown facts of life. I learnt about different characters meeting different minds in the event. The import of the session is that everyone is similar at the end of the day.”

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