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The Library Champions Project – Perspectives of a Library Liaison

Posted on: May 23, 2024

Chris Conroy is the Community Librarian-Supervisor at the Fraser Valley Regional Library’s Terry Fox Library. Recently, her library participated in the Library Champions Project and the NewToBC team wanted to learn how the experience was for her and her library. Chris shares her insights on the project, the process of connecting with newcomers, and how they learned to better support the community, as we look at: the Library Champions Project – Perspectives of a Library Liaison.

Discovering the Library Champions Project

I really enjoyed what the Library Champions Project (LCP) brought to the library. The participants were dedicated and inspiring and their stories were enlightening and moving. I understand that library staff who participate in LCP are there to help the champions learn about libraries, but I learned so much from the champions, too!

Diverse Experiences in Libraries: Insights from Participants

We talked about the champions’ experiences in their home libraries. It was illuminating to hear how different libraries are in countries from across the globe. Many of the library champions said having access to free WiFi in our libraries is a lifeline. It allowed them to connect with family and friends back home at no cost.

Expanding Participation: Terry Fox Library Joins the Project

Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) has been a long-time participant in Library Champions, but this was the first time Terry Fox Library participated. We partnered with Maple Ridge Library. As both libraries are part of Fraser Valley Regional Library, participants learned about FVRL services and programs from both communities.

Educating about Library Services: A Key Component

I don’t think there’s just one key service that libraries provide as newcomers’ needs are so diverse. I think telling them the facts about BC libraries is key. For instance, that libraries are here to help and are a place where everyone is welcome. People use the library in numerous ways: with their families, as space to study, to relax, to read a magazine, to do a puzzle, etc. Libraries have programs for newcomers and their families, and all these services are free, and libraries can connect them to their community. The list goes on.

Exploring Library Discoveries: Champion Testimonials

During one session we were talking about all the things the champions had discovered about the library. It was fantastic to hear! One participant discovered the Naxos Music Library and listens to it all the time. Another discovered the IELTS resources. Someone found digital books their kids could read at home in English. One champion said their kids came to Family Uke Jam and learned to play the ukulele. Another champion said they feel like the library is a friend to them, which is just the best thing to hear!

Dynamic Workdays: A Glimpse into Library Operations

The work changes everyday, that’s what I love. I could be doing programs some days, and other days there’s lots of meetings. I talk with library staff a lot about ideas for programs and services, I help customers. We often collaborate with community partners, and I work on projects with colleagues in FVRL. The days go by quickly!

People, the Heart of the Library: A Personal Perspective

My favourite part of working in a library is the people – customers, my colleagues, community partners. Lots of folks say they like libraries because of the books. I like libraries because of the people I get to interact with.

Community Collaboration: Engaging with Settlement Organizations

Terry Fox Library is privileged to work with all the settlement organizations in the Tri-Cities. We sit on committees together where we share information and collaborate on programs. Most recently, the Tri-Cities Adult Literacy Committee, whose primary focus is newcomers, organized a Services Fair for Newcomers. It was an amazing event! So many newcomers had the opportunity to speak with Tri-Cities service providers – including NewToBC – in one place.  

Looking Ahead: Future Involvement and Collaboration

LCP deepened my understanding of what newcomers need from their communities. Currently, Terry Fox Library is participating in an LCP Tri-Cities session with Coquitlam Public Library and Port Moody Public Library. We at Terry Fox Library are looking forward to future sessions of Library Champions too. We hope that newcomers in Port Coquitlam visit Terry Fox Library and consider becoming involved in the Library Champions Project.