Islibraries. Guangzhou, China

Encouraging dialogue and reducing prejudices through libraries


There’s a paradox in our big crowded cities: more and more people live together but feeling more and more isolated and lonely.
The Islibrary Project was founded in 2009 in Guangzhou, and it is more than a simple library: it is a community interaction platform aiming to create dialogue and closer bonds through books and libraries. People can come just for read, but also participate to the different activities proposed: the idea, eventually is promoting communication between the members.


  • +300 Islibraries in +100 cities in Asia
  • +5,500 members and +4,000 volunteers
  • +100,000 visitors per year
  • +300 activities and events
  • Honored mentioned, Austin Electronic Art Prize in Digital Community 2014
  • 1st prize, Social Innovation Venture Competition 2013
  • Best Social Enterprise, Shanghai SE Forum 2013

Did you know?

Islibrary comes from Isolated Library.
One of the activities organized by Islibrary is Human Library: someone represent a book, and 5 to 10 persons around are its readers: the human book shares his story and in return the readers can ask anything. The idea at the end is to create a living human library, and through that, to achieve the purpose of mutual communication, enhancing understanding and removing prejudice.

Sustainability and Replicability

Islibraries can be created in coffee shops, community centers, libraries, hostels, bookstores, unused spaces in residential communities, saving thus the costs of renting. Most of the books are donated by readers, and the management is assumed by volunteers: the whole community owns the library and can organize activities and hold events (reading groups, day manager, living library…)

Lessons learned

The paradox of loneliness in very crowded cities is a challenge that needs to be tackled. Using a shared interest is one easy, reachable and effective way to create and encourage communication amongst those who are not used to meet and start conversation.

Take action

Be inspired by this kind of initiative and do the same in your neighborhood. 

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