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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

Human library shares dreams, promotes understanding

By Du Jie and Zhou Xiaoxiong (Xinhua)

11:25, December 25, 2011

BEIJING, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Since a child, Li Xingning has always dreamed of being a librarian. This Christmas, her dream has come true, only that her books are real people.

Beijing's first human library opened Saturday night, with dozens of readers and six "living books" exchanging their life stories and ideas.

In a human library, also called living library, readers borrow and return books as they do in a normal one. But books in a human library are real people who engage readers in a direct dialogue. Also, readers can't take a living book out of the library.

"From here we get to know people who have interesting life stories to share, and also to understand who they are and the way they live," said Li Xingning, owner of the human library in Beijing.

The 28-year-old architect from Tsinghua University hoped her library to serve as an interactive platform to promote mutual understanding among people who otherwise have no opportunity to meet and talk in real life.

"Think about a street singer you always wonder about or an animal protection advocator that you have never met. Here you can borrow such living books and talk with them," she said.

The human library concept originated in Denmark in 2000, and the idea has since spread around the world to over 45 countries. In China, such library has also sprouted in Shanghai and Guangzhou. It aims to reduce prejudices and promote tolerance and understanding via dialogue.

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