If I moved to a new country, the first place I would go is to the local library. In British Columbia, the library is the hub: the community; the information centre. Just walk into a library in BC and you’ll notice flyers advertising workshops and information referrals to a wide array of services from computer assistance, to language learning, employment services, housing, counselling, etc. This is just at the front door! Never mind the information you will find within! The moment I walk into a library, I feel like I’m overwhelmed with helping hands waiting to guide me. It gets better!
The Libraries decided to join forces. NewToBC was created to support Libraries in Metro Vancouver help people who are new to BC. Instead of one library promoting their services, this service aimed at jointly promoting programs, services, community events and resources available to newcomers. The goal was to improve each libraries’ ability to help build welcoming and diverse communities. United, libraries are be able to meet the diverse needs of new Canadians based on location, language and resources.
Folks who are new to BC live in a large geographical area.It is to their advantage to choose a location near them and orient themselves to their new neighbourhood. They can head into their nearest library to discover the possiblities, simply by asking at the information desk. Folks looking for literature in their own language will be happy to know that some libraries specialize in specific language selections AND their local library is able to request materials to be delivered to their own branch! There are various service providers who are closely connected to BC Libraries who assist with learning languages, gaining employment, finding services for early childhood, youth, seniors, refugees, and settlement.
To top this off, NewToBC created the Library Champions project: newcomers to Canada volunteer in their local libraries to share the vast resources available to other newcomers in BC: services listed above, events happening in communities, inside tips, connections, friendship, community. The best part? You, too, can become a Champion and a part of your library community. Training is provided and gives you invaluable information about libraries and services in BC. Newcomers have found it useful in finding services, employment, books and new friendships. Information sessions are scheduled at various libraries in October – December.
Don’t take my word for it:
“It helped me first to know more about the library and to improve my communication skills. It helped me to feel that I belong to Canada. I made new friends and meet new people with different backgrounds who helped me to learn more about their culture. The best thing was helping the newcomers and others to learn about the library.” – Ola Sheiy
“As a newcomer, I felt welcomed by Canada, and got to know about Canadian life through the Library Champions Project. This project opens a door for me for my new life in Canada. Thank you!” – Melissa Xu
“The program is a benefit for the new immigrants to increase their confidence and to integrate more into the community, also learn more about the library facilities.” –Sawsan Al. Ramadhan
As an insider, I wish all new Canadians were given the opportunity to know where to start in their pursuit of unbiased, honest and useful information. If you were to respond, in kind, with what your country hast to offer for newcomers, what would you recommend?