The joy of being a book: Benefits of participation in the human library

Brian Dobreski, Yun Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Human libraries are events intended to provide readers with access to the knowledge and lived experiences of their fellow community members. These events are growing in popularity worldwide, and while often hosted by traditional libraries, can take place in a variety of community organization settings. Human library events depend on the services of the “human books” who volunteer to participate, though recruitment of these volunteers remains one of the most challenging aspects of hosting the events. Previous work has shown that human books enjoy participation in these events, though the specific benefits of human libraries for the human books have not been explored. In this study, we analyze the post-event survey responses of human books from four different human library events hosted by various institutions. Participants reported a variety of benefits ranging from altruistic to more self-focused. Reviewing their responses, we suggest eight major categories of benefits for human books. Findings hold implications for effectively recruiting and motivating potential human books, as well as how host institutions may adapt human libraries to the needs of their communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalProceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • Human library
  • community knowledge
  • libraries and communities
  • participatory services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Library and Information Sciences


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