Connect With Your Community Online
The Library Champions Project educates newcomer volunteers about services and resources available at Public Libraries across BC. Additionally, the Library Champions Project trains Library Champions on how to conduct outreach to others to share this information. Due to COVID-19, the latest round of Library Champion training sessions have been conducted via Zoom.
A by-product of the Library Champions Project is that newcomers connect with each other during training and share their experiences, knowledge, and learnings with one another. Since we’ve migrated this to an online platform, we reached out to a group of current volunteers for feedback on this new training cycle. Below is a compilation of thoughts on the program, and life here in Canada.
Where do I find the Library Champions Project?
Ritu Tara (India): I heard about the Library Champions Program through Richmond Multicultural Community Services (RMCS) where I volunteer.
Roderic (Hong Kong): I joined the Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program and met an ex-Library Champion, Ramona. She referred me to this project.
Armaan (India): During my early days in Canada, I was searching for volunteer opportunities to expand my network and learn new things. Most of the in-person opportunities were closed due to COVID-19. I stumbled across the Library Champions Project online. I signed up for the online information session, and started volunteering shortly after.
What is the Library Champions Project?
Machiko (Japan): We use Zoom for our training sessions. We share our experiences and opinions with each other and practice our presentations. It has been great to meet online as it is easier to manage my time this way. If I have a question, or want to share information or documents with others, I use the chat function and don’t have to interrupt the session.
Emily (China): It’s a unique experience. It’s great that we can volunteer from home through Zoom. The information sessions are well-organized and I learned a lot of new knowledge and skills.
Roderic: We went through a virtual training for a month in June as scheduled. It was amazing and the training process conducted smoothly. We did many general sessions with our library, and then moved to a deeper understanding about the functions and services provided by the library. Also, we had a chance to prepare and present a presentation to every participant. The program made us stay connected with each other, which I loved.
Armaan: The project is extremely exhilarating. You get to learn about various aspects of outreaching to new immigrants, thereby helping them get accustomed and settled in Canada. The online session is very interactive and highly interesting.
Machiko: I can see everyone’s face and can feel everyone’s emotions and energy level during the sessions. Everyone’s motivation is high and it helps me keep my motivation up. There are a lot of things I have learned from the other volunteers and I feel thankful that I have met them through this program.
Roderic: It is not only a place to connect, but also a platform for discussion, exchanging and sharing information and knowledge with each other as newcomers to BC. I feel more at home as a result.
Emily: For me, the most surprising thing this volunteer opportunity gave me was a chance to learn of the library resources and services in my community, and how to search for them. This is a very helpful skill as I’m a new immigrant here. I would have spent a lot more time figuring this out for myself. The library has many amazing free, on-line, resources. For example, Lynda.com offers all kinds of courses for learners to study new skills. I also learned that libraries have digital magazines, streaming movies and music online that I can enjoy on my iPhone. It is very convenient.
What resources did I learn about in the Library Champions Project?
Ritu Tara: There are numerous services offered by the library for every age group: kids programs, job fairs, musical shows, language learning programs, and more. This ocean of knowledge with its plethora of resources is new to me. In India, the library means borrowing and returning books only.
Machiko: eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers have been really useful and fun, especially during COVID. My daughter and I attend children’s programs through our library’s social media channels. I just discovered the Seed Library and I can’t wait to use it later!
Roderic: In summary, a ton of resources. If you name it, you can get it. I was surprised that the BC government had put a great effort in this area.
What is special about libraries in BC?
Machiko: I feel this country’s libraries are more alive. I mean, the whole community is involved a lot and people connect with the library through their programs. In Japan, we can’t make a lot of noise in libraries. Libraries are places to read, study, or borrow books. The libraries here give me more energy and I love the atmosphere of everyone smiling and enjoying the library.
Armaan: When I think of libraries in India, I think about books. This entire notion was changed the moment I came to know about libraries here in Canada. It’s is an entirely different world. The resources available here are enormous.
Roderic: From the technology point of view, Canada is moving faster and much more developed than Hong Kong. Hong Kong is at the stage of trial run of applications like eBook at the moment. Unfortunately, after July 1st, Beijing imposed a national security law that has books written by Hong Kong democracy activists disappearing from libraries. The autonomy to acquire a collection of resources, in comparison with Canada, is different.
What do I love about Canada?
Armaan: There are many things which I love about my new country, Canada. The openness and new learning opportunities everywhere around is quite amazing. There is mutual respect for everyone around which is the best part, you can be just yourself the way you are and still be loved.
Ritu Tara: I love the beautiful, natural surroundings of my new home. I love that there are so many facilities to help newcomers settle here. I enjoy the smooth functioning of the transportation system here.
Emily: I love the beautiful natural scenery here, I’m a nature lover. When I first came to Vancouver, it was the cherry blossom season; the roads were full of cherry blossoms and it was really beautiful.
We are currently recruiting volunteers for our next online cycle. If you are interested in becoming a Library Champion, please sign up for an information session to learn more.