NewToBC? Discover the Library Champions Project

– Guest post by NewToBC

 

Do you work with newcomers who are looking to make connections and contribute to their communities? NewToBC is a library settlement initiative links newcomer immigrants and refugees to essential settlement information, public libraries, other service provider organizations, and, ultimately, BC communities. NewToBC plays a unique role in the settlement sector by offering services that are responsive to the needs of newcomers, that complement and raise awareness about resources and services offered by public libraries and other service provider organizations, and that support BC communities as they welcome growing newcomer populations. NewToBC’s keystone initiative is the Library Champions Project.

The Library Champions Project

The Library Champions Project is a quiet revolution that has been transforming the lives of newcomers to Canada. This volunteer community engagement project helps newcomers discover how to connect to their new communities through library and settlement programs and services. The Library Champions Project is in its 11th year of operation. To date, 2312 newcomer Library Champions have been trained to provide outreach to more than 116,488 other new immigrants promoting literacy, free resources, community, and belonging.

Literacy and Free Resources

Library Champions are often surprised to learn of the many free resources, materials, and workshops available at their local libraries. Libraries in BC have collections of materials in many different languages; they lend materials such as musical instruments, laptops, and bird watching backpacks; they provide space for creative opportunities such as recording studios, or 3D printing; and they provide workshops in settlement, employment, language learning and so much more.

“I was very surprised to learn that most people, whether they are new to BC or not, know very little about what BC libraries offer. Because of my experience with the Library Champions program, I realized how important it is, as a newcomer, to engage with my community to learn about the resources that are available.” – A Library Champion Success Story: From Library Champion to UBC Library Technician

Community Connections

One of the well-known benefits of volunteering is the opportunity to connect to a community. Library Champions report making connections to others and their communities through this program. Volunteers come from all corners of the globe. While their languages and cultures may be different, the experience of being a newcomer to Canada creates a strong shared experience.

“I wish everyone could hear the stories of the people that are in the program. My story is simple, but there are many Champions here who overcame war, injustice, discrimination, that learned a new language, a new career. And that on top of the fact that they are working so hard to provide for their families, without any contacts and connections, sometimes without a stable job. Yet, they still are taking the time to join a non-paid project of newcomers helping newcomers so that other newcomers can have it easier than them.” – Embracing Change: From Puerto Vallarta to British Columbia

Belonging

Building social networks and connections within the community is essential to feeling a sense of belonging and integration. Language barriers and cultural differences may hinder social interactions and impede the process of integration. Programs such as the Library Champions Project help newcomers connect to others, their libraries, and their communities.

“Engaging in this volunteer program not only gave me a strong sense of purpose but also allowed me to contribute meaningfully to my new community. Volunteering became a bridge to connect with others, fostering personal and professional growth. The experience enhanced my communication skills, providing a sense of belonging and making a positive impact on the lives around me.” – A Journey of Connection: From Colombia to Canada


NewToBC is all about making connections. The Library Champions Project is an excellent opportunity for your newcomer clients to connect with and contribute to their communities. NewToBC is looking for newcomer Library Champions who are:

  • A permanent resident, but not yet a Canadian citizen
  • 19 years of age or older
  • Enthusiastic about libraries
  • Interested in volunteering in the community to share information about library and settlement resources with other newcomers

Register for an information session to learn more.

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