I moved to Canada from South Korea in the summer of 2009 after getting married. Specifically, we moved to Eastern Canada as this is where my husband was employed. After obtaining my permanent residency, I got a contract position as an Outreach Officer at the Immigration Centre where I volunteered.
As part of my job, I was involved in organizing various cross-cultural programs and activities in partnership with the local public library. From this experience, my interest in pursuing studies in the Library & Information field started to take shape.
In January 2015, I moved to Vancouver with the intention of pursing an education in library studies. During the first month of arriving in BC, I immediately set up an informational interview with a Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre (SIIC) Coordinator at VPL’s central branch. The coordinator, who is also a librarian, was able to provide me with useful information about education, employment, job search websites, and different career opportunities in my field of interest. She also introduced me to the Library Champions Project.
Following her recommendation, I participated in the Library Champions Project which took place in March 2015 at Vancouver Public Library – Oakridge Branch. The program was divided into two parts: in-class training and outreach work. The training sessions delivered information about a wide array of library services and programs as well as many interesting topics around cultural diversity, which I enjoyed very much. The highlight of the project for me was the outreach portion as it allowed me to connect with newcomers who came from different ethnic backgrounds.
I was very surprised to learn that most people, whether they are new to BC or not, know very little about what BC libraries offer. Because of my experience with the Library Champions program, I realized how important it is, as a newcomer, to engage with my community to learn about the resources that are available.
Throughout the project, our facilitator, Helene Rasmussen, constantly distributed information about ongoing programs and resources offered in the community and by the library via email. Her genuine caring nature and passion for this project equipped the volunteers with the necessary tools and information that we could share with all the newcomers that we encountered.
With this great volunteer experience on my resume, I got accepted to Langara’s Library & Information Technology program in May 2015. I now work full time at a University of British Columbia library. Langara’s program is well structured and students benefit from the in-depth knowledge of their instructors and are provided with hands-on work experience. It really prepared me to perform a variety of duties (circulation, cataloguing, acquisition, processing, reference work, etc.) at different types of libraries.
Looking back, every minute of my life here required me to step out of my comfort zone. Yet, thanks to the support and settlement services freely offered to me, I was able to find a path to my current position.
My advice to newcomers is to go to the library and take advantage of all the resources and programs they offer as much as possible. Based on my own experience, going to a library can be a starting point for one’s research in every aspect of the settlement process. There are not only books, but also great people, programs & services (children’s, youth, settlement, etc.) which are all ‘free’.