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News and Events at NewToBC


Five Valuable Roles Libraries Play in Newcomer Canadian’s Lives

Posted on: October 19, 2021

October is Library Month. Libraries, to us at NewToBC, are the framework in which newcomers can land when they arrive to British Columbia; the place to start with when they don’t know what they don’t know. Newcomers are welcomed into the fold of their new communities through libraries. More than just a place to find books, libraries offer many programs, services, and resources to help newcomers integrate into life in BC.


Collections in Different Languages

Many newcomers are surprised to learn that they can find books, music, newspapers, magazines, and online resources in more than 66 different languages in BC public libraries! Each library offers materials based on the needs of their community. For example, if you live in Richmond, BC, you will find a robust Chinese language collection at the Richmond Public Library, while in North Vancouver, you will find a predominantly large collection of Farsi materials at the North Vancouver City Library.

Settlement Services for Newcomers

Friendly and experienced Settlement Workers spend time at libraries throughout BC to help newcomers look for work, sign up for English Language classes, help with Citizenship Test preparation, find a place to live, sign your kids up for school, and learn about the community services are available to you. Most often, Settlement Workers can speak your language – simply ask the staff to see if this can be arranged for you. The Surrey Public Libraries have Settlement Workers in their libraries often and can also refer you to outside agencies for help. Best of all, these services are free of charge.

Person picking a book

English Conversation Practice and English as an Additional Language Book Clubs

Libraries offer a space and place for newcomers to gather to practice English in a variety of ways. At the North Vancouver District Public Library groups meet weekly to practice their conversation, improve vocabulary, discuss interesting topics, and make new friends. Over at the Coquitlam Public Library, English language learners meet once per month for EAL Book Club where an assigned book is read, and discussed in a fun and friendly setting.

community workshop

Find Meaningful Employment

Vancouver Public Library’s Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre (SIIC) helps newcomers of all immigration statuses access the information they need to find meaningful employment in British Columbia. They help immigrants understand job search strategies, career exploration, the local labour market, wages and salary information, the role of industry associations and credential evaluation. They offer

free workshops and events which cover topics like accessing the hidden job market, starting a business, and exploring other careers. Additionally, they provide in-depth one-to-one help for newcomers who are exploring careers, looking for a job, or starting a business. They answer all sorts of questions and refer users to other services, agencies, professional associations, and organizations as needed. All services are free.


Connections to Community

Libraries in BC have many programs and events to help connect newcomers to other library patrons, and, ultimately, their communities:

Child holding a Library Card

And So Much More

This is just a small sample of the ways in which libraries in BC create communities. Everyone is welcome. Everyone can participate. And, best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing. Get a Library Card! At the Greater Victoria Public Library you can sign up for a library card in person at any branch or use their online form. Library cards are free to residents and property owners. For all other libraries, search our database to find the library closest to you. Happy Library Month to the people who make our libraries welcoming, vibrant, and alive. We are so very grateful.