On Friday 29 September, visitors to this Urmston pub can enjoy a book with their beer… but not the type you may think
Back in 2000, in Denmark’s Roskilde, a library launched. Yet there was no paper, ink or even shelves - because this was a library of people.
Open for four days as part of the city’s annual festival, the event was the brainchild of four young men who - after a violent attack on a mutual friend - wanted to challenge prejudice and promote unity.
Featuring over 50 ‘titles,’ the initiative was an unprecedented success: more than a thousand ‘readers’ took advantage, and the Human Library is now a worldwide movement for social change, challenging stereotypes in over 70 countries.
Now, as part of its partnership with Heineken - whose popular ‘Open Your World’ campaign video shows people thrashing out their differences over a bottle of beer - the Human Library is coming to Manchester for a one-off event at Urmston’s Bird I’th Hand pub.
The message? ‘There is more that unites us than divides us.’
Every ‘book’ in The Human Library is a real person with an extraordinary background: from street sleepers and refugees, to those in polyamorous relationships and body mod extremists. There are even ‘bestsellers,’ like the HIV-positive title first ‘published’ in 2000 and which has remained a hot topic ever since. Each can be loaned out for a conversation, a debate and a chance to find common ground (in this case, with a bottle or two of Heineken).
From Muslim converts to naturists, bipolar sufferers to transgender people, all have suffered prejudice at some point in their life, and ‘readers’ from previous events have invariably left with their perspectives challenged. Think alcoholics bring it on themselves? That brain-damaged people can’t live a normal life? Or that ADHD is a new-fangled diagnosis conjured up by drug companies? The reality may surprise you.
Open to residents of Greater Manchester on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis, the event takes place from 3 to 5.30pm on Friday 29 September. A maximum of two tickets are available per person: email firstname.lastname@example.org to request your spot(s).
The Human Library takes place at Bird I'th Hand, Flixton Rd, Urmston, M41 5DN.
It’s an opportune time to celebrate unity, as this month is ‘Friendship Month’ - an initiative launched by the Oddfellows, headquartered in Deansgate, which was founded in 1810 to improve people’s life through better relations.
With loneliness an increasingly prevalent problem, the society recently launched a guide to making friends, featuring quotes from the likes of Dorothy Emerson. At 78, few realise she was a high jump silver medallist in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
You know what they say about books and covers…