NewToBC emerged from the recognition that many new immigrant groups are either not using the library or have a very limited view of how the library can support their settlement and integration in Canada. Many newcomers were not being reached through traditional promotional outreach and approaches due to low or almost no English language skills, no previous experience or understanding of libraries in BC and, therefore, no idea that BC libraries offer services and resources beyond books.
Partnering with libraries and immigrant service providers to develop, deliver, and promote services and resources that help immigrant settlement and integration in communities across the province, NewToBC uses innovative approaches and emerging technologies to deliver three key activities:
- The Library Champions Project.
- The development and dissemination of library and settlement information resources for new immigrants.
- Sharing information about settlement resources, volunteer opportunities, and no-cost workshops, training and community events of interest to new immigrants in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Connecting Newcomers to Community Resources
What makes NewToBC so remarkable is the multi-faceted approach to disseminating information to newcomers. The NewToBC website has a list of resources available to newcomers; most are free of charge. Newcomers can find information about Canadian employment, education, health care, banking, and other settlement-related resources. The Library Champion Project has newcomers connecting with other newcomers about the myriad of services available in our public libraries. The biggest by-product of this program is the connections newcomers make with their community, their library, and most importantly, other newcomers. The success stories that come from this program will make your heart happy.
Libraries in BC are really amazing places. They are the centre of our communities. The people who work in our libraries have hearts of gold, speak many languages, and will do their best to help you with your needs. When I was a new mother, I found myself in my local library. I was a little lost, and a little lonely with my newborn child and I was looking for a space to be with other people. The library’s baby story-time program helped me connect with other new mothers who I am still friends with these many years later. And, since 2014, it has been my pleasure to manage NewToBC’s social media channels!
Helping Newcomers Find Jobs Through NewtoBC Resources
I have continually been surprised at the many services and resources available through our public libraries. One service, in particular, that stands out is the Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre at the Vancouver Public Library. This service is designed to help newcomers access information about the job market, helps them find related careers and helps them with information on resumes, cover letters, and any other service that helps them find work in Canada. This service is free to all newcomers living in all of the Lower Mainland.
I know that many newcomers look back and wish they could help their past selves learn how to better prepare for their arrival here. Many say they wish they had a better understanding of the English language. Many wish they had started looking for employment before they left home. If I was to give a newcomer advice before coming, it would be to tell them that most services available to help newcomers once they arrive are free of charge. If they are paying for a service to help them settle into Canada; whether that be help with a resume, learning English, or finding work, they are paying too much. Canada has so many resources and programs funded by our governments to help newcomers settle.
The Growth of NewToBC and Libraries of the Future
Libraries have changed in the six years I have been with this project. We are seeing new and fun things being introduced almost daily: music libraries, birdwatching backpacks, VR Headsets, Ozobots, multilingual book clubs and more! Libraries are places where we can borrow equipment and try it before we buy it. They are community hubs. They are information resources. They are the pulse of our communities. I believe that we will see the continued growth of the library as an overall hub as we move forward in the future.
NewToBC and the Library Champions Project is an inspiration to me. I have heard many stories of people who move to this country and have overcome obstacles that many Canadians would baulk at. The biggest stand out to me throughout these past six years is that the people who have connected with this program are keen to volunteer and give to their new communities; it seems that the option to not volunteer does not exist in a newcomer mindset. Not only are they new to Canada, but they are giving their time and energy to ensure that others are able to reach their optimum success.
I am grateful for the time that I have been able to spend with NewToBC. I have witnessed humanity at its best with this project and I look forward to contributing to the continued growth of this project. We have an amazing team working to help newcomers discover the richness that BC libraries have to offer.
NewToBC is managed by Public Library InterLINK. The project represents the eighteen public library systems in the Public Library InterLINK federation. The project was established by the Government of British Columbia in 2012. NewToBC is currently funded through a Contribution Agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.