Human Library Project


Challenging your unconscious biases with the University of Hull Human Library Project

University of Hull graduate Erika Butane blogs about leading and managing the University’s Human Library Project

A little bit about the start…

For a quick introduction, my name is Erika Butane. I graduated from the University of Hull in July 2022 and promptly began an internship working with the University’s Brymor Jones Library and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion teams on something called the Human Library Project. Myself and another recent graduate from the University, Charlie Hall, began our journey as the Human Library interns in September 2022. We were unsure what to expect but this experience has been unlike anything we could have predicted and one I wouldn’t want to forget.

Born out of an idea and a small brief given to us, my colleague and I started the ball rolling for the Human Library Project. From creating and upkeeping a website to running a test interview to creating and distributing promotional pieces and finally to editing and uploading – these are just some of the responsibilities I had as an intern and now have as a Human Library Coordinator at the University.

What is the University of Hull Human Library?

At the beginning of the process of creating the Human Library we had looked at the original Human Library Organisation project and how they had created their Human Library using volunteers and in person events. After some thought we had decided to make a ‘virtual library’ rather than one that only works in person, this virtual library would be a website with videos of people speaking up about their lived experience encompassing their identities, stories and lifestyles. We give people a platform to share their story without judgement. On this platform, we first focused on topics such as the LGBTQIA+, neurodiversity, disability, religion, race and others, with our own staff and students speaking up on different experiences, issues and the different identities that we have on our campus. Everyone has a seat at our metaphorical table and we want to make sure that we show this to our staff and students.

The things I love about my job

It has been simply amazing listening to all of the stories and getting to know the different kinds of people we have within our incredibly rich and diverse campus, from international and mature students to staff with disabilities and neurodivergences. I have had the privilege of being exposed to different lived experiences and seeing the world from a perspective different to my own. It was incredibly eye opening and at times an emotional experience. My proudest achievement in this position has been starting the Human Library from scratch and making it a great source of true human experience for everyone to learn from. On top of all of this, both the EDI team (Meica, Hayley and Helen) and our library team (Rachel and Ruby) have been extremely welcoming and accepting and I am very happy to be carrying on in my position and to be able to keep working with this lovely team.

How we hope to expand the library

We are still looking to expand the Human Library so that it reflects our community as much as possible. As mentioned we have focused on protected characteristics to begin with, but through organic growth we are now honing in on what our community needs and wants. Just to give you a sneak peek on what we’ve got coming in store – we are aiming at approaching the issues of confidence and to talk about things like imposter syndrome within our community and especially our staff. There are no plans to stop the human library as it is an ever evolving and growing project so we will keep listening to our community, keep giving people a space to talk, share their experience and advice for others.

Diversity and inclusion ambitions reflected in our project

The Human Library Project is focused on the ‘People’ aspect of the 2030 Strategy that the University has set out to follow for the next 7 years. We have placed our focus on letting our people speak up and speak out by giving them a safe and inclusive space to share their story and learn from each other. This project allows us to highlight the diversity within our community and pushes our mission to help everyone feel included and achieve greatness regardless of the barriers they may face.

Looking into the future

My experience as a staff member at University began as a 10-week internship. Although initially this was a scary position to take it had resulted in me gaining more experience than I ever could had I started in a non-intern position. Without a doubt I have greatly benefited from this internship as it has helped me gain experience in a variety of departments, whilst giving me the tools to build skills and confidence in the world of work. I had the chance to help the library with their open days and experience how those are running from a staff perspective. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team has given me the freedom and amazing opportunity to help out with its events (e.g., Black History Month and Disability History month) and gain some skills I would never have gained if I was restricted to my job title and requirements.

My aim for the future is to carry on the great work that the Human Library does and remain within the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion department to make our University and our wider community a better place for all. No one should feel like they cannot speak up or talk to someone because of who they identify as. My goal is to ensure that people feel accepted in the University no matter who they are.


Find out more about the University of Hull Human Library Project here. To get involved in the project, email

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