Human Libary


This March We Are Leiden has organized the Human Library in BplusC (Nieuwstraat 4) with many special encounters! During the event, you could meet people with unique life stories. You could have one-on-one conversations with them and ask personal questions.

You don’t read books in the Human Library. You read people – interesting people you might not speak in your daily life. How do they differ from our ideas about them? We Are Leiden offered you the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with people with unique life stories, who often face prejudice from others due to their lifestyle, appearance, occupation, or background. A former member of an Egyptian Islamic movement, a rape victim, or someone who is severely disabled: they’re all ready to share their life story with you in an open conversation in which you can ask and discuss everything.

Anke lives in Haarlem and works as a writer. Behind her happy smile and enthusiastic way of chatting with people, there hides a harsh story. In 2015 she was harassed in her own home by someone who she had met on a dating site. Post-traumatic stress, that she already developed because of previous experiences with sexual violence, hit her again with enormous intensity. Anke decided that she wanted to open up the debate about sexual violence, and in reaction to her experience with sexual assault and the way the Dutch police handled her case, she wrote a blog. Following from this, that same week Anke was invited to be a guest on the Dutch tv program Pauw. She also launched a campaign with the hashtag #zeghet (say it) on social media. It became – unpredicted and unexpected – the biggest campaign against sexual violence in twenty years. Since then, Anke still writes and speaks openly about sexual assault and violence, but she also likes to explain how sex can be fun and safe.

Tommy is originally from Egypt but fled to the Netherlands. In Egypt he worked with the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic movement in the world. When the government kidnapped him and ordered him to work as a spy, Tommy decided to leave Egypt and he came to the Netherlands. He applied for political asylum and received it recently. He is nowadays very active in the debate about refugees and he makes storytelling events and theater performances where he uses his own journey as a starting point.

Stephanie lives in Leiden and was born with a growth disorder. She is 1.03 meters long. She often makes use of a wheelchair, but is also very independent. Because of her disability, people are sometimes surprised that Stephanie has an active social life, owns a house, has a good job and a car. She also used to exercise and perform on a high athletic level, last summer she won a silver medal at the World Dwarf Games in Canada. Furthermore, Stephanie is also chairman of the association for small people that represents the interests of people with a growth disorder. 

We Are Leiden is
supported by:
Gemeente Leiden

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We Are Leiden uses current stories and themes in town and her neighbourhoods and gives these a platform. Our slogan is: 'Connecting people, creating stories', which will always be seen in our projects.

© We Are Leiden – 2020