About Human Libraries Australia

Human Libraries Australia is a national strategy for connecting and strengthening local communities through conversation.

Australian communities are becoming increasingly diverse and strategies are needed to assist communities to respond to these changes. Human Library projects offer an innovative, effective and low-cost strategy to support communities in adapting to local changes by bringing people from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles together in conversation. Through conversation, communities are brought closer together, attitudes changed, prejudice and fear reduced, and social inclusion is strengthened.

The Living Library concept was first developed in 2000 by the Danish non-government youth organisation, Stop the violence. The idea has since spread around the world to more than 45 countries and is coordinated by the international Human Library organisation based in Denmark.

The Australian national strategy developed in response to the success of Australia's first Living Library launched in Lismore NSW on 3 November 2006 and the interest expressed from communities wanting to establish their own Human Library.

The efforts, commitment and contributions of the founding members of Lismore's Living Library and the people who moved the concept forward in Australia must be acknowledged and thanked. They include: Sabina Baltruweit, Gordon Balfour Haynes, John Jessup, Suzy Arthur-Smith, Shauna McIntyre, and Lucy Kingsley.

The Lismore City Council and Lismore Library were successful in a grant application to the Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Citizenship through the Diverse Australia Program. The Department's funding over three years from 2007-2010 supported the development of the website, the resource kits, the production of the videos, the employment of a project officer, and the foundations for sustainability of the concept.

In mid 2009, the project was sub-contracted by Lismore City Council to the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).

In October 2010, the name of the project was changed from Living Libraries Australia to Human Libraries Australia in response to a name change by the international organisation.

The program is now managed by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) through its Public Libraries Advisory Committee (PLAC) and the PLAC Human Libraries Australia Sub-Committee. This sub-committee comprises representatives from Local Government Managers Australia, Federation of Ethnic Communities Australia, Country Women's Association of Australia, and community representatives.

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