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How libraries can help newcomers adjust to life in Canada

Across the country, public libraries provide newcomers with free information and settlement services, job search assistance, courses in computers and new technologies, lectures on health, personal finance, legal issues, and more.

When Nigeria-born saxophonist, songwriter and humanities supervisor Perpie Nwaefido got here to Canada, she found one place the place she might discover all types of assist she wanted as a newcomer.

This was on the Calgary Public Library.

“It was such a special expertise from the one I had in my nation,” Nwaefido stated. “Again house the library is only a place you go every so often since you in all probability have many of the books within the faculty library or in your individual house assortment — libraries there are usually not often buying new titles and updating their catalogues, so not a lot to do once you go to them.”

On the Calgary Public Library, Nwaefido discovered she might entry a variety of assets. “I might come every single day and spend hours studying, researching, utilizing the computer systems and receiving invaluable skilled assist in so many areas — from interview abilities and resume writing to music manufacturing. The library even lent me musical devices. I additionally enrolled my kids in a chess membership.”

You are reading: How libraries can help newcomers adjust to life in Canada

Nigerian-born saxophonist Perpie Nwaefido urges new Canadians to visit their local libraries. “Seek out information, seek out opportunities, search the websites, ask the staff and make the most of the library.”

Far more than books

Throughout the nation, public libraries present newcomers like Nwaefido with free info and settlement companies, job search help, studying alternatives together with free English and French courses, programs in computer systems and new applied sciences, lectures on well being, private finance, authorized points, and extra.

Guests can discover absolutely anything — applications and actions for kids and adults, teams who share comparable hobbies and pursuits, and even free passes for galleries and museums.

Newcomers who contemplate beginning their very own companies in Canada can be a part of numerous libraries’ initiatives for entrepreneurs. And there are even preparation courses for the Canadian Citizenship Take a look at.

To make sure all kinds of companies to newcomers, most public libraries collaborate with settlement businesses and organizations. The Toronto Public Library, for instance, gives settlement assist at 14 of its branches via the Library Settlement Partnership — a challenge funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The Partnership includes the Toronto Public Library and 7 native settlement businesses.

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“Many of the settlement staff have been immigrants themselves,” stated Elsa Ngan, senior companies specialist, Multicultural Providers at Toronto Public Library. “So, they’re updated with all of the totally different points newcomers may need questions on — starting from well being care, abilities growth and schooling to a way of belonging and neighborhood connections.”

To complement their collections, libraries often purchase new books, digital books, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, CDs and DVDs. Catering to Canada’s various inhabitants, the collections embody supplies in about 40 languages. Members can even recommend supplies for the library to buy.

Selling arts and tradition

Final September, because the 2021 Newcomer Artist in Residence, Nwaefido gave a live performance at Whelan Efficiency Corridor at Central Library in Calgary.

Nwaefido was completely satisfied to seek out the efficiency house. “It’s outstanding — the setting, the plan, the design, the colors, it’s so stunning! I used to be actually honoured and grateful to carry out right here. In my nation, it will value some huge cash to have entry to such an area.”

Those that like to share their studying experiences can be a part of ebook golf equipment — some in languages apart from English and French. The Chinese language Guide Membership at Toronto Public Library, for instance, holds on-line conferences each month and is fashionable amongst Mandarin audio system.

Shared neighborhood house

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Public library membership is free in Canada — to get a library card you simply want to indicate a legitimate ID and proof of handle.

Nonetheless, some newcomers are uncomfortable approaching a library.

“Many occasions, newcomers come from locations the place the concept of a public library, the best way we get pleasure from it right here, is totally overseas,” defined Amanda French, supervisor of social growth on the Toronto Public Library. “I’ve seen so many newcomers who’re afraid of being late with one thing, as a result of they assume they might be in bother, like with the police. They consider the library as an establishment that’s extra governmental, extra inflexible.

“I discover that, typically, newcomers are uncertain whether or not they belong in a public library — as a result of the place they arrive from, they may not have such a factor, or the libraries there are non-public, or it’s a must to be part of a membership, of a faculty or of one thing else so as to have entry,” French continued. “So, to those newcomers, it’d really feel unusual once we inform them, ‘You possibly can are available, you’re completely welcome to remain right here, browse the books, use the computer systems, no matter you might want to do. And we, the librarians, are usually not judging you; it doesn’t matter if you happen to want us or not. That is a part of your neighborhood house. It’s an extension of your property.’”

“Make good use of the unbelievable assets the libraries present,” Nwaefido advises those that have chosen Canada for his or her new nation.

“Hunt down info, hunt down alternatives, search the web sites, ask the employees and benefit from the library.”

These tales had been initially printed in Canadian Immigrant Journal. is a free nationwide multimedia platform that helps newcomers via their journey in Canada by offering the knowledge, inspiration and connections they could want.

DisclaimerThis content material was produced as a part of a partnership and subsequently it might not meet the requirements of neutral or unbiased journalism.


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