As Canada continues to bring immigrants and refugees from around the world, we want to highlight the roles that libraries in BC take in helping newcomers adapt to their new life. At NewToBC, we know that Libraries in countries around the world can be quite different. We work hard to encourage newcomers to connect with their libraries here as soon as they can. Because we know libraries help connect people to their community. They help find settlement services & support and offer a physical space where individuals and families feel welcomed.
Libraries Described in 26 Languages
To help newcomers understand libraries in BC, we have developed and translated this one-page description of BC libraries into 26 different languages. Read it online or print and share it with family, friends, or other newcomers who may need this information! Our one-page summaries introduce library services, resources, and programs available for newcomers.
In addition, newcomers often find that staff, working in the library, speak multiple languages which makes it easier to ask questions.
Books, Music, Newspapers, Magazines, and Resources in Many Languages
Libraries in BC have collections of materials in many different languages. You can find books, music, newspapers, magazines, and online resources in more than 66 different languages! Each library has different materials in different languages based on the demographics of the community. For example, the Richmond Public Library has an extensive Chinese language collection, while the Surrey Libraries offers a good-sized collection in the Punjabi language.
What can I do at the Library?
The question should be: what can’t you do at the library?!
Libraries have programs and events that help immigrants settle and connect.
- Conversation practice groups are available at many libraries in BC. The Port Moody Public Library, in collaboration with Share Family and Community Services, offer English Conversation Clubs for kids. As well as English Practice Groups for Beginners through to Intermediate English speakers. Details can be found on their events page.
- Activities for babies and children are offered to connect caregivers and children to their communities. The Coquitlam Public Library offers story time in many languages, along with other activities such as chess club, learning to code, and family fun trivia nights. Additionally, you can find access to reading buddies, a program that has youth practice reading in a fun and safe environment, and homework help for your child.
- Book clubs are bountiful in our libraries. The Surrey Libraries offer an English Language Learning Book Club that meets monthly. The North Vancouver City Library offers a Persian Book Club. Alternatively, you can start your own book club with the Book Club Sets available through your Burnaby Public Library.
- Citizenship test preparation is available through many libraries. The Richmond Public Library offers information about the test and practice tests available for you to take.
- and much more! Many libraries in BC have fun things for you to try, free, with your library card. Activities like birdwatching backpacks, fishing EXPLOREpacks, musical instruments, 3D Printing, VR headsets, and so much more.
Libraries are for the Community
Libraries in BC are inclusive, to the point that the Vancouver Public Library created the Access to Vancouver Public Library Services without Fear Policy which states that “residents with uncertain or no immigration status [may] use municipal services, and do so without fear that the Library will ask for and provide information about their immigration status to other institutions or orders of government unless required by law.” BC Libraries are free. They are responsive to the needs of their communities, including the influx of refugees and immigrants who join these communities by chance, or by choice.
If you are a newcomer, or you’re helping a newcomer adapt to their new life in Canada, please make sure that a visit to your local library is in order. We will do our best to make you feel welcome, to provide you with answers to your questions, and point you in the right direction for additional services and resources that you may need. Welcome to British Columbia. We’re happy you’re here.