The Human Library spreads acceptance in the Tamar Valley Peace Festival

Piia Wirsu

31 Jul 2016


It’s like no book you’ve ever read, you can ask the main character anything and even join the story. It’s the Human Library, a program that has used conversation to break down fear and difference as part of the Tamar Valley Peace Festival.

In the Human Library, people happy to share their experiences acted as living ‘books’ telling their story before engaging their ‘readers’ in conversations to delve deeper.

“The idea is to get people to talk about themselves. When they talk about themselves they not only talk about their differences but also about their similarities,” said Human Library organiser, Nathalie Servant. She thinks this helps people realise despite race, religion or sexuality everyone has similarities, which breaks down barriers and dissipates fear. 

Ms Servant said the library acts as a way of combatting negative issues in society, acting as a preventative measure by creating community cohesion. 

“I think it's really important for people to learn about other people’s stories and to hear that sometimes people are similar even if they come from different backgrounds and different experiences,” said Fiona Macliver, one of the ‘books’ in the human library.

Ms Macliver shared her story of parenting a child with autism. She finds the experience of being a book and sharing her experiences and journey cathartic, “It’s almost like a validation of what you’ve gone through, letting people know you can go through a certain thing and you can survive it.”

The yarns often connect very personally with the readers, creating a collaborative story made of shared experiences. “You also get people telling you about their own situations, people want to connect with you and be able to share in your story,” said Ms Macliver.

The Tamar Valley Peace Festival is in its second year, and was created to bring the community together to explore what peace means to them and to celebrate the ways peace manifests locally. 

The festival, which officially wrapped up on Sunday, saw a range of events and opportunities for collaboration throughout the region.

Program Coordinator