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How your local library helps newcomers to BC

Posted on: February 10, 2023

Public Libraries in BC are available to everyone. They cost nothing to enter, there are no costs to borrow, and everything within the library is available to the public, without prejudice, to everyone. Today, for many newcomers seeking community, to practice their English, to look for work, or to attend workshops (in multiple languages), the library is a haven – filled with comfortable chairs, internet access, books in many world languages, and new and wonderful materials to borrow (think laptops, batpacks (for bat watching!), fishing gear, 3D printers, and more).

The concept can be foreign to a newcomer: an institution, open for free to anyone, that sells no products, makes no money, is funded from public dollars, and is dedicated solely to the public interest. Yet, you have a right to be there – not because of any institutional affiliation, job, or paid subscription, but because you reside in British Columbia. All of this is available to the public and is a privilege made available to every person in BC. 

Libraries in BC are a place to learn and explore. They are future-focused, providing people from all walks of life with information, services, and resources. Public Libraries help British Columbians train, learn, and reach their potential. They exist to grant access to information and to facilitate curiosity, education, and inquiry for their own sake. Patrons can access free online learning opportunities such as LinkedIn Learning, CreativeBug, or MangoLanguages. This is a place where people can go to pursue their aspirations and their whims, such as podcasting, birdwatching, or learning to play a musical instrument.

They are local, close to home, and adapt to the communities they serve. For example, if you’re living in Coquitlam, BC, your Coquitlam Public Library offers children’s programs in Korean and Persian. In Vancouver, BC, your Vancouver Public Library offers an extensive Chinese language collection. In North Vancouver, you’ll find a Persian Book Club at the North Vancouver City Library. Some libraries even offer settlement services to help connect you to your community. 

To help newcomers understand libraries in BC, NewToBC developed and translated this one-page description of BC libraries into 29 different languages. To learn about what you can find, do, and learn at a library in BC, choose a language and click the green “Download” button. This one-page description is available in the 29 most spoken languages by newcomer immigrants and refugees in BC. You can read it online or print and share it with family, friends, or other newcomers who may need this information! 

The Library Has What You Need. Find one and come for a visit.

At BC public libraries, you can: 

  • borrow books, magazines, movies and music in English and many other languages; some libraries lend activity kids, telescopes, video games and other interesting things 
  • read newspapers and magazines in print and digital formats
  • use computers, WIFI and copiers
  • join programs and take classes online or in-person
  • use online resources, electronic books (ebooks) and audiobooks
  • visit the library to relax, meet friends, read, study or work

Every public library is different. Be sure to check out your local library in your community. Library cards are free and easy to obtain. Anyone can visit a library and use library resources! If you want to borrow materials, you need a library card. Library cards are free! To get a library card, go to a library in your city or town. Bring photo identification and proof of current address. 

Public library staff will help you find what you need in the library and out in the community. Some libraries have staff members who speak other languages. Learn more. Download information about libraries in your language. Let us know what you’re looking forward to accessing and enjoying with your free membership.