A volunteer project was undertaken at the Central Library in Cardiff to challenge prejudice against different subjects within our society. Different topics were discussed such as poverty, sexual orientation, refugees, emigration and among all these hot discussion bats were also included. It could be said that we were challenging prejudices about this fairly unknown animal group by being present and giving people the opportunity to ask questions about bats and human involvement with this nocturnal and evasive animal group.
The project is named the “Human Library” because people could be borrowed for 30 minutes and read like real books through conversation. Each person had their own story to tell, therefore every story had a personal touch. People did not just learn about what a person does in the present moment on the surface of events, but how a person came to be and what life events happened on the way. The book title was more than a label, but a summary for what is hiding underneath and opening a connection with a rich store of life events, decisions and emotions of an ordinary person.
Throughout all this exploration of the human psyche, people were informed of what we, ecologists, are doing during building inspections, crawling through loft spaces and looking for bat droppings and access points into the building. People could learn how to undertake activity/flight surveys in the evening and early morning hours in uncommon places, as well as how to use ultrasound bat detectors to hear different bat species, which are emitting ultrasound for their own orientation. People were thoroughly entertained and surprised and learned new things about a very special niche that bats occupy as well as the people who are monitoring them.
Human Library is a regular volunteer event, which is hosted all over the world. It started in 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark and has run ever since. The next Human Library Cardiff event, which is supporting International Women’s Day will be running on the 3rd of March 2018, from 12:00 noon to 16:00.