Watch the Video from the Original Post in Sept 2015

Gr. 7 Learning Commons Orientation Video!!! Weclome to St. Joseph H.S. LC!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Human Library Success! Listen to the CBC interview with Hallie Cotnam!

The first Human Library took place at Roskilde Festival 2000 in Denmark. Essentially, people volunteer to be ‘living books’ to be ‘read’ by other participants. The main goal of the exchange is to allow ‘readers’ to ‘take out’ their prejudice from the human library.  For more information go to

I first learned about the human library at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year in Toronto. I wanted to celebrate Education Week by hosting a similar event. The event grew out of contacts that I have through family in the Ottawa Police force and at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. Jay and Joe offered to come with my cousin Sargent John Gibbons.

Jay and Joe were formerly homeless men, with serious drug and alcohol addictions that contributed to their ensuing life of crime. Brigitte came from the Royal Ottawa Client Empowerment Council where she advocates on behalf of people living with addictions. She shared her very moving story of abuse and cocaine addiction and her present conflicted relationship with her teenage daughter. Dan is a recent graduate of St. Joe’s. He shared his life as a gay teen and his recent contraction of HIV/AIDS virus. Liz works as an outreach teacher at Operation Come Home in the market that supports teen runaways. My aunt Maggie, a mental health nurse at the ROH, volunteered at the last minute to replace the book “Average Guy Living with Schizophrenia” who had a bad cold!

I was very reluctant to have media at the event because I wasn’t sure how it would unfold and was leery of having the intrusion interrupt the flow of conversation between the students and the books. However, my friend who is a producer at CBC encouraged me to allow him to share the information with his friend Hallie Cotnam. I couldn’t believe that she would come all the way out to Barrhaven early Tuesday morning after the election and Osama news to cover
our little human library event.

Hallie followed a group of Grade 12 students as they moved from book to book recording their questions and the answers. Her news story and the interview with Kathleen Petty of Ottawa Morning really captured the essence of the day! Take the time to listen to her interview on CBC Radio.

One parent emailed the school as she was moved to tears by the coverage and was full of praise for a concept that allows students to have an authentic learning experience outside the strict guidelines of the curriculum!

As a result of a challenge proposed by Joe and Jay, the Grade 12’s are volunteering to spend the day at the Shepherd’s of Good Hope making sandwiches and serving lunch to patrons.

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