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News Release

Children, Teachers and Authors Connect Through Broadband Book Club

Ottawa, November 24, 2003  -  Following the success of last springís Broadband Book Club, Library and Archives Canada, in partnership with Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) and National Research Council Canada (NRC), is pleased to announce that on November 25, 2003, close to 200 students from five schools across Canada will be participating in the second Broadband Book Club.

The Book Club will provide a rare opportunity for students aged 12 to 14, and their teachers, to interact and engage in real time, sharing their diverse cultures and individual perspectives through the power of next-generation broadband videoconferencing.

The participating schools for the morning English session will be W.O. Mitchell Elementary School in Kanata, Ontario, Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. Johnís, Newfoundland, and Ulluriaq School in Kangiqsualujjuaq, northern Quebec. French immersion students from W.O. Mitchell Elementary School, École secondaire Saint-Laurent in Montréal and École secondaire Hormidas-Gamelin in Buckingham, Quebec, will take part in the afternoon French session.

"Every time a child has the opportunity to read, it opens a door to a whole new world," says Dr. Roch Carrier, National Librarian. "The new and exciting concept of a broadband book club not only connects students, teachers and authors, but engages all of them in a greater awareness of the stories and realities of this world."

The book selected for the sessions is Hanaís Suitcase by Karen Levine. This remarkable true story recounts the efforts of Fumiko Ishioka, Director of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center, to trace the origins of a suitcase belonging to a young girl named Hana Brady, who died at Auschwitz. This compelling and compassionate story helps children today understand the impact and the horror of the Holocaust. Author Karen Levine and translator Marie-Andrée Clermont along with Eddie Balter and David Shentow, both Holocaust survivors, will participate in the book club discussions.

"Some of the participating students are doing research on other victims of the Holocaust, other are writing personal reflections and poems, or providing creative presentations. The intent of the Book Club is to enable students to build knowledge together by sharing their research and personal thoughts on the subject with each other," said John Spence, Program Manager for the CRC/NRC Virtual Classroom.

NRCís Institute for Information Technology (NRC-IIT) is assisting the partners in this project by providing on-going technical expertise and infrastructure, including new video servers for asynchronous broadband visual communication. Building on-line communities through facilitating such educational forums demonstrates the benefits of using broadband technology in education and human development and is a key component of the Instituteís work in the field of broadband communications.

The Library and Archives Broadband Book Club was initially part of the activities surrounding The Fun of Reading: International Forum on Canadian Childrenís Literature. The use of the Broadband Book Club will further the Forumís long-term goal of promoting Canadian childrenís literature in the classroom.

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Pauline M. Portelance
Library and Archives Canada

Orest Dykyj
Communications Research Centre Canada

Tricia Diduch
National Research Council Canada