connect / 2015

Los Angeles Human Library

Los Angeles Human Library

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center

The SIJCC proposes LA’s first city-wide Human Library initiative. The Library provides a forum for people to engage in difficult conversations and gain a deeper understanding of diverse human experiences. Participants “check out” individuals who have volunteered to act as “books” labeled with titles that specify a topic or neighborhood they represent. Through guided conversation, participants are better able to connect to others in their community.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • City of Los Angeles

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open streets gatherings (Dream Metric)
  • Residential segregation (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

This project will connect individuals from different backgrounds and regions of Los Angeles and put them in thought-provoking conversation with one another. By categorizing the “books” with a variety of experiences and identities, we will encourage discussion of normally taboo topics in a safe space, facilitated by trained volunteers. These conversations will serve to connect disparate parts of Los Angeles’ diverse community, and foster empathy and understanding between us and our neighbors.

Through our arts and cultural programming, the SIJCC has established itself as a place where people connect. Our reach extends far beyond just the local Jewish community to bring together people of all faiths and backgrounds.

We wish to hold a Human Library on our campus, with other pop-up Libraries taking place across the city in public libraries, community centers, parks, and other public spaces. We will culminate the experience with a storytelling event held at the SIJCC, where individuals will share stories of their own experiences and/or those they’ve learned from others through this project. The storytelling event will build upon the experiences gained and lessons learned by participants throughout the various human library events around the city, and will serve as another opportunity to connect community members from across Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Our ultimate goal is to connect individuals from different backgrounds who wouldn’t normally interact with one another. We’ll measure this success in a few ways: by the number of people and organizations we connect with before the Library events take place, the number of events that are held around the city, and the feedback received/word of mouth generated afterward.

Success is connecting with at least 20 organizations to partner on this event in various capacities, and organizing 6 or more Human Libraries in LA.

Success is a well-attended storytelling event at the SIJCC at the end of this project.

Success will also be measured through surveys given to participants to learn about their experiences and will be seen in the community’s response once the events have ended (i.e. : if we’re contacted to partner on a future Human Library or other project, or if we hear other communities are implementing this idea.)

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research