Human Library: Real People. Real Conversations.


(via Ottawa Public Library)

Ottawa Public Library partners with CBC to host Ottawa Human Library

When is the last time you interacted with someone from a completely different walk of life? Or, had a frank conversation with someone whose life experience is far from your own? On February 27, 2016 you are invited to engage with human “books” to help start conversations between the great range of people who make up our city.


“This is a unique opportunity for the public to get to know people they might not normally meet,” says Ruth Zowdu, Managing Editor, CBC Ottawa. “We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback each year we have held the Ottawa Human Library in partnership with the Ottawa Public Library. We’re excited to be celebrating five years of successful events.”


“When I first attended the Human Library, I had the opportunity to borrow the Former Drug User book Jordon MacLean. It was one of the most interesting books I’ve read,” says Tim Tierney, Chair of the OPL Board and Councillor for Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward. “Having a one-on-one conversation with someone who was open to share their story, was an amazing experience. Human Library is an opportunity to interact with people you might otherwise not meet. It is sure to open your eyes, trigger new emotions, and impact how you think and behave.”


The Human Library will take place at three OPL branches across Ottawa: Beaverbrook, Main, and St-Laurent.


Thirty people from Ottawa have volunteered to be “books” and share their stories with the public. Visitors to the Ottawa Human Library will be able to speak informally with a variety of individuals, including:


  • Heather Imming, Domestic Violence Survivor
  • Ayan Yusuf, Living with Schizophrenia & Depression 
  • Simone Bell, Human Trafficking Survivor
  • Major Réjean Richard, Living with PTSD
  • Denis Collin, Correctional Officer
  • Ted Thompson, Naturist
  • Sikander Hashmi, Imam
  • Chelby Daigle, Daughter of a Deportee

The Ottawa Human Library is held in an effort to help dispel myths and stereotypes by creating an opportunity for one-on-one conversations between people who may never otherwise meet.  People with various life experiences, including CBC personalities, will volunteer their time as ‘books’:


  • Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco, Host, CBC Ottawa News at 11
  • Doug Hempstead, Traffic Reporter, CBC Ottawa
  • Gerry Buffett, Television Control Room Director


Members of the public will have a chance to ‘check out’ a ‘book’ and ask questions to learn about the person and his or her life.  Participants are encouraged to engage in conversations on Twitter by using the hashtag #HumanLibraryOTT.

The Human Library was created by a group of young people in Copenhagen to fight prejudice. They organized the first Human Library at a festival in 2000. Since then, there have been Human Libraries in 60 countries. CBC is the first broadcaster to be involved as a national media partner, and CBC Ottawa has partnered with the Ottawa Public Library to bring this event to Ottawa for five years.


For complete details, please visit the OPL website at, call613-580-2940 or email

OttawaStart Staff


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *