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Making History (Projects) with OPL


On April 19th, I had the honour of being one of the judges for the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair. Heritage Fairs take place across Canada, encouraging students in grades 4-9 to discover, explore, and celebrate aspects of Canadian history. Projects in English and French are represented with enthusiastic displays that include costumes, dioramas, models, posters, original writing, artifacts and, of course, plenty of research!

I was of course extra pleased to hear how many students found resources and inspiration at the Ottawa Public Library. Sometimes one of our items was even on hand to enhance a display!

Is there a student history project coming up on your school calendar? Here are a few ways the library can help:


  • If a topic is brand new to you, start with an encyclopaedia. Our children’s department has a reference section stocked with encyclopaedias, dictionaries, and books of facts. We also have a number of online encyclopaedias that can be consulted in the branch or from home using your library card.
  • Several of these online databases, like Encyclopédie Découverte  or Britannica Library for Kids , are specifically designed for kids, while Canadian Encyclopedia  (in English and French) and the French Dictionnaire biographique de Canada en ligne  are dedicated to Canadian history.
  • I saw a lot of multimedia incorporated into the displays this year. OPL has a selection of documentaries on DVD, as well as Access Video on Demand, a streaming video platform with an emphasis on educational films. Access Video on Demand can also be used from home with your library card.
  • Students can scan, copy, or print images for their displays, or can make use of the PCs located in our children’s department to work on their presentations. They can also make use of the library's wi-fi and work on their own devices. Remember to bring a USB drive to save your work!
  • A few students drew ideas from historical fiction to inspire roleplaying and creative writing. Historical fiction is a great way to immerse yourself in a historical period, getting to know the problems and victories of people living in another time or place. You may find you have a lot in common! Popular historical novels for students include the Dear Canada/Cher journal series, many of which are available on our shelves or as an eBook. One student prominently included War Girls , a book of short stories from our teen collection, in her exceptional display.


Looking for more? Explore our catalogue or ask for suggestions from our library staff in the children’s department and the teen zone. We’re happy to help with your project!