Library Archives

NaNoWriMo (It’s National Novel Writing Month)

NaNoWriMo

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get the novel out of your head and put it down in writing? November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): a challenge to write a novel of 50,000 words from November 1st to November 30th; a call to let go of your excuses and your fear and just write by the seat of your pants. If you’ve ever had a fleeting thought of writing a novel, now’s the time.

This program offers direction and encouragement to get you writing creatively and vibrantly through:

  • NaNo Prep – resources to help inspire us, challenge us, and prepare us to write a novel.
  • Pep talks from authors – Kami Garcia informs us that our excuses of being too busy are lame, our ideas don’t suck, our muse is not MIA and we ARE qualified to be writers.
  • Conversations with others – you can reach out to others in your region, join forums and discussions online
  • Earning badges – who doesn’t love a little external reward?

There are also programs for both youth and adults are being offered at various libraries throughout the Lower Mainland to help you get started. To list a few:

Burnaby Public Library: invites youth to submit the first chapter of their original novel to any BPL information desk or through email. The first chapter will be judged by BPL Librarians. One winner will be selected from each category: Younger Teens (grades 8 – 9) and Older Teens (grades 10 – 12). The winners will receive a $50 gift certificate to Metropolis Metrotown! The winning chapter will also be featured on the BPL Teens webpage.

Fraser Valley Regional Library (Maple Ridge): opening-up our Teen Area every Friday evening in November to provide space for like-minded writers to ply their trade together.

The New Westminster Public Library: offers a catalogued list of books written during NaNoWriMo.

Surrey Public Library: invites youth to join local author Denise Jaden and fellow teen writer Linda Xia for two hours of writing activities and discussion, Wednesday, November 5th from 4:00-6:00pm at the City Centre Library, Teen Lounge.

The Vancouver Public Library: will enter participants who complete this challenge in a draw where 3 winners will be chosen to have the first chapter (up to 5000 words) of their NaNoWriMo work read by an SFU Creative Writing consultant.

West Vancouver Memorial Library: invites you to come to the library and write like the wind!

Now if you’ll excuse me, it would appear that the prep section of the NaNoWriMo website is calling my attention. Will you join me?

Finding the first job

It’s easier to find a job when you have a job, or so the story goes. When you’re a newcomer to a new country it’s a bit more complicated. Most often, you’re not coming with a job in place.

You have to get a job:

One of the most difficult things for newcomers is getting that first job. You know what you were before you moved here: Engineer or Teacher, Doctor or Lawyer, Plumber or Carpenter and so on. You arrive and find that your qualifications need to be assessed and the process is long and complicated; or you find it difficult to have any response to your search for employment.. You hear: ‘you don’t have the Canadian Experience,’ ‘your qualifications don’t meet the BC professional requirements,’ or ‘you need to take one or two courses to have your credentials articulated as equivalent to BC standards’ (only to find that the one or two courses are near impossible to get). You find that you don’t know what you are anymore, or how you can make your old life fit with the new.

As your dreams of landing a job in your trained career wanes, it’s important to remember that sometimes, you need that first job to then get the job you want. The first job gives you a pay cheque. The first job counters the ‘Canadian experience’ argument as you begin to live Canadian workplace culture. The first job gives enough breathing room to let you figure out the rest.

My advice to newcomers on finding the first job:

Set your ideal target and set your bottom line:

  • Apply for the jobs that you want, and that you’re qualified for. Apply for the jobs you want, but think you’re not qualified for. The worst that will happen is…nothing. You won’t hear anything back from your prospective employer, or you may hear any of the above variations of why you’re not qualified. The best – you’ll get the job.
  • Apply for the jobs you don’t really want (your bottom line), but could do for short periods of time. Plan to accept a job you don’t necessarily want with a goal of continuing your search. Temporary employment provides breathing room to look for new employment, contacts in the community, and experience. It also looks better on a resume when applying for other positions – employers tend to prefer hiring those who are employed.

Talk to as many people as you can:

  • The folks at your BC Public Libraries are well equipped to refer you to the appropriate resources, whether it be employment assistance, translation of documents, language training, online resources and so on.
  • Contact the organization or governing body of the career field that you wish to work for. A simple Google search for Association of _______ (fill in the blank), BC will likely put you in touch with the governing body of your career. Call them. Ask them if to tell you what you need to know. Ask if you can volunteer in some capacity. The more you connect with others, the more you learn what you need to know to transition to your career in BC.
  • Look for a MeetUp group to connect yourself with others with common goals.
  • Connect with current employees and ask if they are willing to provide you with an informational interview. It may seem awkward, but most employees are willing to share insights into what their job entails. This also builds new connections.

Ask for feedback and practice:

  • Have others review your resume and cover letter to gain feedback. Make modifications if you feel a valid point has been demonstrated and you feel comfortable with the advice.
  • If you have been declined for a position, ask them to provide you feedback. A simple question such as ‘do you have any feedback on how I performed in the job interview?’ will let them know you’re motivated for possible future positions. Take notes of what is said and take time to reflect on how you can improve.
  • Research possible interview questions and have prepared answers for as many as you can. The process of thinking through an appropriate response will save you time and energy in the interview and will help you relax.

There are many more steps to securing employment; especially in a targeted career. The keys to securing the first job are to be open to alternatives, understand that this position is not permanent, and use the resources around you. Consider this practice for your move into your ideal career.

My Library, My World

It’s Canadian Library Month. A month to celebrate what libraries mean to you and the rest of us in Canada. The Canadian Library Association invites you to share your story with the rest of Canada in form of a short video, or a written story in English or French, on how a library has impacted you. Submissions can be made online. Here’s my story:

I grew up in a small, farming community called Warner, Alberta. The current population sits at just under 400 people. Set in the middle of canola, wheat and hay fields, among the cattle ranches, this village offered ample time for the imagination to reach as far and wide as the prairie sky. As a child, I got to know every nook and cranny of this village through my daily adventures. As I got older and bigger, the town got smaller. I needed more. Thankfully, we had a library.

Warner Library

The library operated on a part-time basis. When it was open, I would gather my books to return to exchange for new ones. What a treat it was to be the first to check out the newest book that came in. The status and power awarded to the first borrower was akin to being ‘Queen of the Castle’ on the playground that day. I would relish it; knowing I was the first to read what was contained within the pages of that book. It was hard not to spoil it for others. Of course, this was a seldom occurrence – we all had a sixth sense as to when the next book would arrive and competed accordingly.

My favourite thing about the library was that it opened up a world beyond Warner. I read about cities larger than Lethbridge. I learned of countries outside of Canada. I discovered cultures that were foreign to me. I thumbed through pages of the encyclopedia and learned things I wouldn’t have even imagined learning. This small room contained the world.

Later, as I moved throughout Canada, I would discover that libraries have much more to offer. Imagine to my child’s eyes, the discovery of:

  • Read along programs
  • Parent and tot programs
  • Employment programs
  • Language programs
  • eBooks
  • Workshops
  • Speakers series
  • Community engagement events
  • Etc.

It’s astounding how far, for me, libraries have come: from a place of books and self-discovery, to a place of that plus community, interactions, philosophy and dialogue. And now, for you as a new resident to BC, I see libraries are a first contact point in your new community, a place to get your bearings, a welcome place. Libraries are unbiased, thought provoking and growth invoking.

It’s Canadian Library Month. How have libraries inspired me or touched my life? They’ve made me more open. They’ve helped me grow into a better human being. They’ve made me more welcoming, more understanding and more worldly. How has a library touched your life? Leave your response in the comments. Submit your story online.