At this type of library there are no late fees, and the selection isn’t arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System. That’s because all the stories here are delivered first-hand by a living, breathing human being.

The “Human Library” originated in Denmark in the year 2000 as part of a youth organization called “Stop the Violence.” The idea is straightforward: library guests can choose which volunteer they’d like to “check out” based on titles the human books assign themselves. Past titles have included “Olympic Athlete,” “Biking Agoraphobic,” “Fat Woman,” and “A Questioning Christian.” Visitors then sit down with their books for half an hour or so to listen to them share their personal stories.

The University of Essex via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The project is meant to combat prejudice by giving people a chance to connect with someone they may have never had a chance to speak with otherwise. No two accounts are exactly alike, and guests have the unique opportunity to ask questions and interact with the stories as they listen to them.

The Denmark experiment has since expanded into a worldwide project, with human libraries making appearances in fifty countries on five continents. Some places like Tasmania and South Korea have even established permanent human libraries for the public to enjoy.

To check for human libraries coming to your neighborhood, visit the the Human Library Organization’s Facebook page.

[h/t: Roadtrippers]