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The Safety Harbor Public Library at 101 Second St. N. in downtown.

SAFETY HARBOR — Sometimes a book just speaks to you.

Maybe it’s a classic like “War and Peace” or “Jane Eyre,” or maybe it’s a mass-market airport bookstore romance or suspense novel you picked up during a flight delay.

But participants in the Human Library will speak directly to you, discuss difficult issues in the book and start a conversation about those issues.

“I just want to get people talking to people about issues that they haven’t talked about before,” said Lisa Kothe, who is organizing the event for the Safety Harbor Public Library. “Maybe it’s obesity, being bipolar, being dyslexic, or having HIV or even brain damage.

“The list could go on and on. But the idea is to start a conversation in a safe environment. That’s where we want to go. We want to have someone who defies a stereotype and has valuable experience, who wants to share that experience to change the stigma by sharing what they have gone through.”

The Human Library is a concept that was developed in Copenhagen and has spread throughout the world. The idea behind the Human Library is to challenge stereotypes, ask difficult questions, and “a chance to unjudge someone” while creating a safe space for dialogue.

“We publish people as open books,” the organization’s website says.

The 19-year-old Human Library Organization, or Mennesekebiblioket for you Danish speakers, is a “registered international not for profit” dedicated to establishing the Human Library as a “learning platform.” It encourages diversity, equity and inclusion training and a dialogue about those issues. It operates in more than 80 countries.

Kothe is looking for 10 volunteers to choose books that participants can check out on the day of the event. The Safety Harbor event has yet to be scheduled, although the target date is Nov. 5. Sessions typically last about two to four hours on a Saturday afternoon.

The Human Library project allows people who have connected with a book to discuss the issues brought up in the book. For example, someone with mental illness could choose William Styron’s “Darkness Visible,” a book subtitled “A Memoir of Madness,” to lead a discussion of depression and how it has affected and stigmatized them.

In a sense, the Human Library allows people to personify and humanize a book. But it’s not for the shy.

“You have to be willing to talk,” Kothe said. “You want to be willing to share your story and you want to be willing to share and to speak out about how these things affect you and how you have to deal with the stigma of those things.”

Participants must apply to the Human Library program and go through training before the library sessions.

“The person becomes the book that defies stereotypes, a book that allows people to talk about the experiences of prejudice they’ve had in the past,” Kothe said.

The measure of success for the Human Library will not necessarily be the number of participants and readers, Kothe said.

“It’s about people talking openly,” she said. “It’s about learning and talking to people they might not speak with on a daily basis. It’s about opening the dialogue.”

For more information contact Kothe at 727-724-1525 x4106. For information about the Human Library, go to https://humanlibrary.org.