Work Within Your Community as a Library Champion Today!
As we near the fifth anniversary of the first flights bringing Syrian refugees to Canada, we reflect on The Library Champions Project (LCP) which has allowed newcomers a chance to connect to their communities in a deep and meaningful way.
This year, the Library Champions Project is celebrating its 8th year of operation. The seed of this program was planted by two new immigrant women to Canada who saw newcomer connections as a great way to share the wealth of resources and services available through libraries. The Library Champions Project grew from this idea and has had a greater impact than anyone could have imagined!
Through the Library Champions Project, trained volunteer Library Champions conduct outreach to other new immigrants. The training sessions focus on building communication, presentation, and outreach skills. These skills are fostered through a range of programs, services, and resources that are available in libraries around the community.
After training, Library Champions develop a three-month outreach plan that fits within their goals and schedule. The outreach plan includes sharing information with friends, family, colleagues, and individual community members. Through group presentations, speaking with community agencies, and social media, Library Champions reach a wide range of BC newcomers. Our facilitators support Champions with their outreach by helping them identify additional contacts and overcoming any challenges they might encounter.
Experience Confidence, Knowledge, and Friendship with Newcomers Across Your Community
The Library Champions Project’s success is attributed to the unintended magic that happens during the Library Champions’ time together.
Through the Library Champions Program, We Share Experience:
One Library Champion described her immigration experience like this: “immigration is like taking out a healthy plant from its roots and planting it somewhere else with different conditions. Shortly you will notice that your plant is changing. Some of the leaves may turn yellow and some of them may fall no matter how much you take care of your plant.”
…We gain confidence:
“I remember as a newcomer being integrated with the rest of the society and having a message to conduct was remarkable (the message was about the library and its resources). It increased my confidence and made my transition smoother. It gave me a sense of accomplishment to give back to the new society that I was trying to integrate with.”
…We impart knowledge:
“Through this, I was able to learn about the services that the library provided and introduce this to my friends and neighbours. Many of them, like me, were so excited to discover more about their libraries. There are so many activities and services to attract people to the libraries and most are free!”
…We make friendships:
“Not only did I love the activities during the session, I met some amazing, talented people who became my new friends.”
Many past and present Library Champions have also reported increased success in finding employment after completion of this program.
On average, each Library Champion shares information with more than 50 other immigrants. As of April 2020, we have trained nearly 1,500 new immigrants as Library Champions and they have reached out to nearly 85,000 new immigrants!
While we do not collect immigration status of participants, we do know that some of our Champions arrived as refugees. We recognize that newcomers look forward to no longer referring to themselves as ‘refugees,’ but simply as a Canadian resident. We are grateful to have the opportunity to make all newcomers feel like they are finally home.
“Before my move to Canada, I looked forward to making a different life for myself. I think the biggest challenge for me was balancing how much I should hold onto my past with how well I connect to this bright future in my new home. My roots include ties with my families, old friends, past careers and traditional cultures. After living in Canada for years, I think I have found this balance.”
For more information on our Library Champions Project, please click here.