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Our Reflection on 2020: Adapting to the New Normal

How We Continued to Provide the Support Newcomers in BC Need

It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up 2020! Reflecting on this, we are in awe of what we have been able to accomplish. A pandemic forced a shift in our lives and our ways of doing things. And, while we are not yet through this, we think there have been many takeaways that will continue to grow through the years to come.

The pandemic hit us right before we started a new training cycle for our Library Champions Project. For those of you who might not know, this project trains newcomers to British Columbia as Library Champions who outreach to other new immigrants and share the wealth of resources and services available through libraries. This training was previously provided in-person at various libraries throughout the Lower Mainland. However, due to the restrictions imposed upon us, we had to quickly adapt our program to offer all training and future outreach to be conducted online only.

The two facilitators of this program worked incredibly hard to learn the ins and outs of technology to meet, virtually, with their Library Champions. Through Zoom, they were able to connect newcomers to their libraries. They fostered communication, presentation, and outreach skills in our immigrant volunteers. They continued to help Library Champions develop a three-month outreach plan that fit with their goals and schedules. In turn, Library Champions shared information with their friends, families, and colleagues.

Communicating Online and Understanding the New Normal

It helped that our partner libraries adapted just as quickly. Many programs moved online to help our newcomer friends, from Learning English (at the Richmond Public Library), to Fun in Farsi Storytime (at the West Vancouver Memorial Library), to Career Prep Workshops (at the Coquitlam Public Library), to Kids STEM Club (at the Surrey Libraries), and many more. As a result, many programs that struggled to fill spaces prior to the pandemic now have waitlists!

While we miss the in-person connections, we have been able to connect newcomers to their libraries and each other virtually. Some Library Champions reported that online meetings were easier to get to, as they could be accessed anywhere. Many found new friends and were able to meet in-person, (outdoors) and virtually, outside of the training cycle. Some found it difficult to say goodbye when the training was complete.

As a team, we were able to surpass our targets by moving our delivery model online. In doing so, we learned how to share information in new ways and were able to reimagine what our training programs look like. And, as we look forward to the end to this pandemic, we do so with a fresh perspective. Grateful for the lessons of 2020 and so very hopeful for continued growth and prosperity in 2021.

Wishing all of you, who make our community bright, a very happy holidays and a wonderful new year.