Media Advisory | Sep. 20, 2010

Check us out: UBC Library presents the Living Library

Event:             UBC kicks off its first-ever “Living Library” where users can “check out and borrow” remarkable individuals to learn more about their lives and experiences

Date/Time:  10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010
Place:             Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
                        1961 East Mall, UBC Vancouver
                         Foyer on the main level (level two)
                         For a map, visit

UBC Library comes alive with its first-ever “Living Library” event – an occasion that allows participants to meet a collection of fascinating figures, among them students from Afghanistan and Nigeria, gay writers, a pioneering doctor, an extreme athlete/traveler and more.

A Living Library features real, live people who are “lent out” as “books” to interested users who can then speak to them about their lives and experiences. The idea is to introduce people to a collection of individuals who come from different walks of life and realities compared to their own. It’s an attempt to promote diversity and share a broad range of views and opinions – all within a context of respect and intellectual curiosity.

For example, a user could sign up to talk to an Afghani student about life in Afghanistan, his wartime struggles and his experiences coming to Canada. Someone else may want to speak to an esteemed female doctor who has been recognized for her exemplary research and her success in a male-dominated field. And yet another participant may want to talk to a writer about the creative process, and about the ways his views on identity, gender and sexuality inform his writing.

Candidates will be available to talk for about 20 minutes, twice an hour. The Living Library event is open to everyone, including community members, and the sign-up process begins at 9 a.m. on the day of the event, Sept. 22.

Summary descriptions of the candidates follow; for lengthier biographies, please visit:

Living Library – Biographies

Dr. Judith Hall is a professor emerita in the Depts. of Medical Genetics and Pediatrics, and a pioneering UBC professor and physician who is concerned about the place of women in academia, science and medicine.

Raul Pacheco-Vega is an instructor in UBC’s Dept. of Political Science, a researcher, educator and consultant in environmental politics and policy, and a prominent social media maven.
Michael V. Smith is an interdisciplinary artist (writer, filmmaker, performance artist) and an assistant professor of Creative Writing in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan. Vancouver Magazine named him one of the city’s 25 most influential gay citizens.

David Watmough, born in London, England, is a long-established B.C. writer and author of a cycle of fictions that features gay “everyman” Davey Bryant. Watmough is also a playwright, short-story writer, critic, broadcaster and the author of nine other books. In 2008, he published his autobiography, Myself Through Others: Memoirs.

Joanne Ursino joined UBC’s Equity Office in April 2009. She brought more than 20 years of experience and has facilitated numerous workshops on employment equity and human rights. She is an out and active member of Vancouver’s queer community, and played a leadership role in building a more inclusive union movement. Ursino is also a textile artist and designs, makes and binds books by hand.

Andrew “Chima”Akomas was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba but grew up in Nigeria. He returned to Canada in 2003 to continue his education, and is now majoring in commerce at UBC. While in Nigeria, Akomas was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder of the connective tissue, and has undergone major surgeries as a result. After returning to Canada, he also began to lose his sight; he has been blind for three years.  

Alyas Omeed is a human rights and disability activist from Afghanistan who is attending UBC (he is improving his language skills and then plans to start his bachelor of arts program). He lost his sight as a child during Afghanistan’s civil war. 

Rimple Cheema and Lisa Sun are both UBC students and participants in the Social Entrepreneurship 101 (SE101) from the Sauder School of Business. SE101 is a three-week course where students from UBC and Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, teach young Kenyans how to write business plans (more information is at

Darrell Bailie is a reference librarian at UBC’s Koerner Library. He’s also an extreme athlete and traveller. Bailie is a 17-time Ironman competitor, and he has completed about 60 marathons. His passion for mountain and volcano climbing have taken him to Aconcagua and Cotopaxi in the Andes, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Illiniza Norte in Ecuador, Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus mountain range and many others.

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Glenn Drexhage
UBC Library
Tel: 604. 827.3434
Cell 778.378.0174

Lorraine Chan
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.2644

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