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BC Library Conference 2020

F07 - Newcomers and the Public Library: On Being Canada’s Unofficial Welcoming Committee.

Friday, April 17, 2020 at 10:45 AM–12:00 PM EDT
Meeting Room #1
Session Description

Generously sponsored by: BCGEU

How many times do we hear from newcomers that the public library was among their first destinations upon arrival? Or that the first card they got in Canada was from their local library? Or even that they were referred to us from a settlement agency? It may seem like the library – as wonderful an institution as we all know it to be – ought to appear a bit further down in the list of necessary services for new immigrants, refugees, and visitors. But in reality, there are precious few places where you can go every day of the week, where you can stay for as long as you like without buying anything, and where someone will answer your questions for free no matter your current immigration status. Indeed, when it comes to undocumented residents, we might be the closest thing to a settlement service they’ll get.

What role do public libraries play in creating a social infrastructure within which newcomers can thrive? How do we foster social cohesion and promote a sense of belonging through our physical spaces, programs, collections, and community partnerships? Whether it’s working within the library walls or without – in community centres and neighbourhood houses, in churches and mosques, or at gathering places and community events – library staff take an active position in welcoming new members to our shared society. Learn from librarians and immigrant service providers working in systems across the Lower Mainland about what they are doing – and what they could be doing better – to ensure that these communities feel at home within the community at large.


Curated by Kelty Roberts, Vancouver Public Library

Kelty is an Information Services Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library, with several years of experience building relationships and engaging in community outreach on behalf of the library in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods. She is currently the Chair of BCLA’s Community-Led Interest Group.

Shideh Taleban, North Vancouver City Library

Shideh Taleban is a Community Librarian at the North Vancouver City Library. As a non-ALA accredited librarian who immigrated to Canada from Iran, she started out as a Page with the Surrey Public Library in 2011. While working towards her accreditation in Canada, she discovered the Library Champions program and jumped at the opportunity to become more involved in the public library scene. Since then, she has gained a wide range of experiences in academic, special, and public libraries.

Mark MacKichan, Vancouver Public Library

Mark MacKichan is the Coordinator of the Vancouver Public Library’s Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre, an online and in-person resource hub that helps newcomers to Canada explore careers and find meaningful employment. He is deeply committed to developing community relationships, learning at every opportunity, and always stepping way too far outside his comfort zone.

Ravi Basi, Surrey Libraries

Ravi Basi is the Manager of Multicultural Services at Surrey Libraries. For the past 29 years she has been involved with outreach, programs, and advocacy for newcomers in Surrey, as well as anti-racism and cross-cultural initiatives. Ravi's passion for multicultural services is fuelled by her own family's experiences as immigrants, as well as the conviction that immigrants enrich our communities and are vital to Canada's success on the world stage. She believes that ongoing education, meaningful actions, and self-reflection are key factors in spreading this message, and that libraries play a crucial role in welcoming newcomers and helping them succeed.

Sarwan Singh Randhawa, Fraser Valley Regional Library

Dr. Sarwan Singh Randhawa was born in India and immigrated to Canada in March 2000. He has two Masters’ degrees as well as a Doctorate degree. Since November 2002, he has been working with the Fraser Valley Regional Library, and at present, he is working as a Community Librarian-Supervisor at Muriel Arnason Library. He is a driving force behind multicultural programs and services presented in the Langley area. Being fluent in English, Hindi and Punjabi, with speaking skills in Urdu, Sarwan is keen to unite people of various cultural backgrounds into a safe, strong and rich-cultured Canadian community.

Dennis Juarez, MOSAIC

Dennis is the Manager of MOSAIC's Migrant Workers Program.

Ryan Drew, S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

Ryan began her career at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. 20 years ago. During that time, Ryan has held many different roles including Language Instructor, Best Practices Coordinator, Regional Manager, and Program Director. As the Director of Integrated Services for Newcomers over the past 2 years, she supports all of the social service programming at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. – services for newcomers, seniors, youth, families, entrepreneurs, and vulnerable populations. She is proud to ensure the delivery of quality services that enrich people’s lives.

Jody Johnson, PEERs Employment and Education Resources

Jody established PEERs Employment and Education Resources in 2004 with her business partner, Trevor Van Eerden. They have project managed and applied their expertise to hundreds of initiatives focussed on employment, education and skills training, and immigrant and refugee settlement. Currently, they are facilitating strategic planning for a number of public institutions and managing comprehensive social media campaigns for several large local and provincial projects. Previously, Jody and Trevor led the research to develop NewToBC and the Library Champions project, and they continue to proudly project manage and provide guidance on all project elements.