Library Archives

NewToBC? Head to Your Local Library!

If I moved to a new country, the first place I would go is to the local library. In British Columbia, the library is the hub: the community; the information centre. Just walk into a library in BC and you’ll notice flyers advertising workshops and information referrals to a wide array of services from computer assistance, to language learning, employment services, housing, counselling, etc. This is just at the front door! Never mind the information you will find within! The moment I walk into a library, I feel like I’m overwhelmed with helping hands waiting to guide me. It gets better!

The Libraries decided to join forces. NewToBC was created to support Libraries in Metro Vancouver help people who are new to BC. Instead of one library promoting their services, this service aimed at jointly promoting programs, services, community events and resources available to newcomers. The goal was to improve each libraries’ ability to help build welcoming and diverse communities. United, libraries are be able to meet the diverse needs of new Canadians based on location, language and resources.

Folks who are new to BC live in a large geographical area.It is to their advantage to choose a location near them and orient themselves to their new neighbourhood.  Library booksThey can head into their nearest library to discover the possiblities, simply by asking at the information desk. Folks looking for literature in their own language will be happy to know that some libraries specialize in specific language selections AND their local library is able to request materials to be delivered to their own branch! There are various service providers who are closely connected to BC Libraries who assist with learning languages, gaining employment, finding services for early childhood, youth, seniors, refugees, and settlement.

To top this off, NewToBC created the Library Champions project: newcomers to Canada vReading Buddiesolunteer in their local libraries to share the vast resources available to other newcomers in BC: services listed above, events happening in communities, inside tips, connections, friendship, community. The best part? You, too, can become a Champion and a part of your library community. Training is provided and gives you invaluable information about libraries and services in BC. Newcomers have found it useful in finding services, employment, books and new friendships. Information sessions are scheduled at various libraries in October – December.

Don’t take my word for it:

“It helped me first to know more about the library and to improve my communication skills. It helped me to feel that I belong to Canada. I made new friends and meet new people with different backgrounds who helped me to learn more about their culture. The best thing was helping the newcomers and others to learn about the library.” – Ola Sheiy

“As a newcomer, I felt welcomed by Canada, and got to know about Canadian life through the Library Champions Project. This project opens a door for me for my new life in Canada. Thank you!” – Melissa Xu

“The program is a benefit for the new immigrants to increase their confidence and to integrate more into the community, also learn more about the library facilities.” –Sawsan Al. Ramadhan

As an insider, I wish all new Canadians were given the opportunity to know where to start in their pursuit of unbiased, honest and useful information. If you were to respond, in kind, with what your country hast to offer for newcomers, what would you recommend?

Culture Days – Create, Participate, Celebrate

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September 26, 27 & 28 will have Culture Days sweeping across BC and the Lower Mainland. There’s really no better way to introduce you to the arts and cultural life of communities in BC. This event is designed for us to participate through hands-on, interactive activities; to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators and designers at work in their community. It cannot be successful if we do not attend. We cannot enhance our community if we choose to not participate.

Information about this event can be found through the Culture Days Website. They have provided the ability to search by community, by organizer and by date. You will find that your BC Public Libraries are also on hand to participate.

A popular activity for libraries is, of course, story-time activities. There is nothing more joyful than sitting in a room with an enthusiastic librarian reading to children. What better way to infuse culture than to introduce children to the love of books and language? Children five years and younger, along with their parents and caregivers, will enjoy stories, songs, rhymes and puppets.

In addition to stories, many libraries offer something in addition related to arts and culture. To list a few, I have added the link to workshops taking place at various libraries. Click on each Library’s name for more detailed information from the Culture Days website:

The Burnaby Public Library

  • Game Face – Boardgames for teens
  • Papercraft Lab
  • Oral Storytelling Circle

The Fraser Valley Regional Library

  • A celebration of Art in Fibre
  • Pom Pom making
  • Multicultural Tea and Treats

The North Vancouver City Library & the North Vancouver District Public Library

  • Culture Cram at the Library

The Richmond Public Library

  • Writer-in-Residence Launch: Meet Mark Leiren-Young
  • Word of Mouth: Local Writers Read

The Surrey Libraries

  • Family Lego Club
  • Scrabble Club
  • Bookslam: Find your next “buzzer beater” read!

The Vancouver Public Library

  • Animate it!
  • Kits House Story Sharing Circle
  • Painting and Photo Exhibition

The West Vancouver Memorial Library

  • Book Some Time for the Crime

Of course, there’s so much more to offer than what’s listed above. Many other organizations are participating. Have a look. Explore. Attend. Be a part of your community. When you’ve finished participating, be sure to share your experience by leaving a comment below! Have a great weekend!

Human Libraries: Modern Day Oral Storytelling

In books, I am swept up in the story of another life, and whisked away to an alternative reality. In oral storytelling, I am drawn in further; it’s like I can visualize, more clearly, the story and the characters as a result of the visual cues, the emotions, the facial expressions and the first-hand experiences. This is why I was so excited about the Surrey Libraries (Semiahmoo Branch) Human Library initiative. I could borrow a human book to hear a story and ask questions as the tale unfolded.

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I rented two human books (believe me, I wanted to rent more!): Christian-Catholic (Peter) and Pagans-Order of Scáthach (Michael and Sara Lasure). I was given 20 minutes to converse with each and, let me tell you, it was fun, enlightening and heartwarming. Each ‘book’ explained their journey to finding their religion and the impact it had on them and how they connect with their world. Each explained the guidelines of their religion to me in simplistic terms, enthralling me in the process. Each answered any question I had with patience and respect.

I left with a sense that something in me had shifted and I spent some time reflecting on the impact of what I received during this brief encounter. What I realized is this:

      • I received a human connection to the story being told; a first person perspective full of raw experience, emotion and history.
      • I became hungry to learn more about each respective religion.
      • I connected to another person, at a very deep level, within the 20 minutes; deepened by the lack of fear I had in asking questions and receiving profound responses in return.
      • I increased my knowledge about another religion and expanded my world as a result.
      • I was connected to a person within the religion who I could contact if I had further questions.

I am looking forward to the next Human Library when it hits a library in the Lower Mainland and I would encourage you to participate in this transformative experience. In the meantime, I have some reading to do!