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A Librarian’s Journey of Empowerment and Connection Through The Library Champions Project

Posted on: June 1, 2024

A Day in the Life of Balbir Singh Gill

My days are a blend of managing operational tasks, collaborating with staff, and fostering connections within our community. I address daily challenges, plan future programs, and look for ways to make the library experience inclusive and welcoming. What I like most about my work is the opportunity to connect with both staff and the public. There is a sense of community and belonging that lies at the heart of the libraries in BC. I am happy to be a part of this. I’d like to share with you, my story: A Librarian’s Journey of Empowerment and Connection Through The Library Champions Projec.

Embracing the Library Champions Project

Since 2016, I’ve have been involved in the Library Champions Project(LCP). This project is close to my heart. I work with newcomers/facilitators to share knowledge about the services and resources available at libraries, and in the community. Working with immigrants has shaped my perspective on the pivotal role libraries play in community integration.

Surprises Along the Way

One of the most surprising aspects of the Library Champions Project is seeing the transformation of newcomer participants. By the end of the program, these champions have a better  understanding of our libraries than many Canadian citizens. It’s a testament to the project’s effectiveness in bridging cultures and fostering literacy.

Addressing Newcomers’ Needs

In British Columbia, libraries offer newcomers a safe space and place to land. Libraries offer not only informational resources but also a sense of belonging. From providing guidance on navigating services to offering spaces for engagement, libraries are vital. They play a role in helping newcomers settle into their new life.

Heartwarming Anecdotes: Stories of Success

One standout moment for me, was learning that a Syrian woman secured employment shortly after completing the program. She got work with Archway Community Services. It was good to see the experience of the program helped her find employment. The volunteers in this program gain ‘Canadian’ volunteer work experience. They also get a better understanding of how to look for work in Canada. It is very different for many of them.

Dreaming Big: Expanding Library Resources

If I had unlimited funding, I would enhance library services centers around accessibility. By offering loanable tablets and laptops with internet access, newcomers could access and use technology to access resources with ease. There are many free, online programs available to our Fraser Valley Regional Library members. These can be difficult to use without proper technology.

Building Bridges: Partnership with Archway Community Services

At Clearbrook Library, we’re proud of our partnership with Archway Community Services—an organization dedicated to supporting newcomers on their journey to integration. We collaborate to create inclusive spaces where all feel welcome and ensure that immigrants find good information and support.

Final Thoughts

I love working at the library. These community centres give us the power to shape a brighter, more connected future. The Library Champions Project helps new Canadians connect to each other, to their community, and to the rich diversity that Canada is known for. I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved. I’m also grateful for the chance to tell my story: A Librarian’s Journey of Empowerment and Connection Through The Library Champions Project.