British Columbia

Not just for books: Public libraries provide services for new Canadians

For newcomers to Canada, finding that first job and learning English can be difficult work but public libraries across Metro Vancouver want to help.

'We have such a range of resources to help people integrate into a new community,' says library manager

Kristen Andrews, right, with a co-worker, says Metro Vancouver libraries provide a range of services for new Canadians, which are free. (CBC)

For newcomers to Canada, finding that first job and learning English can be difficult work but public libraries across Metro Vancouver can help.

"We have such a range of resources to help people integrate into a new community," said Kristen Andrews, manager of Guildford and Port Kells libraries in Surrey. "Things to learn English, things to read in their first language, programs to come to." 

Over the the years, the libraries have helped newcomers adjust to life in Canada, Andrews said. It has books in several languages, software programs to learn English and book clubs geared toward new Canadians.

"(English as a second language) book club is for people who are working on their English," Andrews said. "They might not want to be in a regular book club with a 500-page book, so we've got a little bit shorter books and the knowledge that everyone is working on their English."

Job search workshops

For those looking for a job, there are resume workshops, Andrews said.

"Newcomers especially, we like to show them our English language learning resources, our career and job search workshops," she said.

"Maybe they're not sure where to begin for finding a new job, or they're coming from a country where they have certain qualifications and it doesn't translate the way that they had hoped in Canada, so we have workshops to get them rolling." 

The library also has services to help people wanting to start their own business, said information officer Meghan Savage.

"One woman … she was asking about starting her own company because she bakes and so I was helping her with business resources, starting a company in B.C., like how you get that rolling, and she's actually got it going now," Savage said. "So it's exciting to see that transition."

Library staff speak a number of languages and all the services are free.


with files by Bal Brach


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