Human Library in Yerevan, Armenia

There is a kind of library in the world where you can see the books breathe, you can watch them blink, cry, laugh, and think. You can ask them any sort of questions and get a real answer. That is what the books hope you will do.

On the 12th of April, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO organized Human Library, that gave an opportunity to the participants to share their thoughts regarding their experiences.

Human Library is an innovative “Book-Reader” space, which is designed to build understanding for diversity by providing a framework for real encounters about important issues. Open and honest conversations may lead to greater acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion in Armenia.

The event hosted eight people who volunteered to become “Books” by making their experiences open and available, usually on issues that people tend to have a difficult time discussing. The titles of the book represented stigmatized or stereotyped minority groups in Armenia. For example, people representing ethnic, religious minorities, LGBT community or any other community that is exposed to general misconceptions, stigma, stereotyping and or prejudice.

The Books were lent out to curious readers who asked them questions and challenge their own perceptions on different minority groups in Armenia. That is the objective of Human Library: to create a space that can challenge and break social stereotypes and prejudices through real face-to-face conversations.

During the event, we hosted more than 100 people. The attendees were not only Armenians but also youth workers from six different countries, who were in Yerevan in the frames of the long-term training course “Everyone Matters”.

The event was quite dynamic and interesting. “Readers” got the answers to their questions, talking to people with different outlooks. We can firmly say that «readers» learned to look at life from a different perspective. This was also a great opportunity for «books» to speak about their life stories and share their emotions, thoughts and fears. They also spoke about the experiences how they overcame the difficulties they faced in their lives.

Artak Arakelyan, the “Book” labeled as “Queer”, shared his experience with us, ‘This project had a great psychological influence on me because it was the first time when I had the chance to publicly speak about myself, my sexuality and sexual life, my feelings, fears and thoughts. I tried to present the negative sides of my experience in a more colorful way because I didn’t want anyone to face the difficulties that gave me a thick skin.’