Library Services for Newcomers to
Canada & USA:
and Challenges
Fang Liu and Anneliese Dalmoro
LIS 598 – Services for Special Populations
Presentation outline:
Background information
Library programs for newcomers
Examples and value of partnerships
Thought provoking introduction
Where to go?
• Imagine you are moving abroad to live and
work with your family. It is not necessarily
only a move to develop your career but as
much to challenge yourself in a new cultural
and social setting. Upon settling, you receive a
pamphlet introducing you to, among other
things, what Democracy is….
Definition of Newcomers:
• Immigrants who have completed their landing
process and remain in the country. Usually
immigrants are considered newcomers for 3
years after arrival.
-Toronto Law Point
Some statistics
– Immigration in Canada:
• The 2006 Census identified more than 200 ethnic
origins in Canada.
• In 2008, Canada accepted 247,200 immigrants,
representing a rate of 8 newcomers per 1,000 people.
• Canada received 80,700 immigrants during the second
quarter of 2010
• Most immigrants settle in Toronto, Montréal or
Vancouver. Social networks and links with family and
friends influence immigrants to choose a particular
- Statistics Canada
CLA’s Library Services to Linguistic and Ethnic
Minorities position statement
• “The Canadian Library Association believes that:
All citizens of Canada should have equitable
access to library materials and services which
meet their needs regardless of their
language, cultural background or country of
First CLA recomendation
What are the Newcomers’
immediate information needs?
Newcomers immediate information
needs: (ctd)
• Language information (e.g. translation and
interpretation services)
• Pre-immigration information
• Employment information, such as job search skills
• Housing information
• Information about making connections in the
community (e.g. professional associations,
volunteer opportunities)
• Information about new culture and orientation to
‘Canadian or American life’
What are the newcomers’
information needs after they
have settled in?
Longer established information needs:
Health and employment information
Educational information
Political information and current events
Language learning information (e.g. ESL)
Information about transportation
Information about identity construction
Information about culture/religious events
1.1 Steps for developing multicultural
library programs
• Developing and modifying the library mission
statement and core values
• Staff awareness and training
• Learning about the community members
• Program designing
Example: Toronto Public Library
Vision, Mission and Values statement
• Vision
"Our rich resources provide the opportunity for everyone to treasure the
past and to create a future that is full of possibility.“
"The Library promotes and enriches the democratic, cultural, educational
and economic life of our diverse and evolving City."
• Mission
"Toronto Public Library preserves and promotes universal access to a
broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a
welcoming and supportive environment. “
• Value
“Equity: Accessibility, diversity and fairness in the treatment of all
“Participatory: Inclusive and involving in decision-making”
“Respect: Valuing individual needs, experiences and differences”
1.2 Library programs for newcomers
ESL programs
Computer literacy programs
Multilingual computer access
Community information workshops
Health, legal and immigration workshops
Cultural activities and holiday events
Cultural exchange
Resume and job workshops
Story time for kids
Book clubs
Family literacy
Online information for Newcomers (blogs)
1.2 Library programs
for newcomers
(some examples)
• Family literacy
Four components are necessary for a true
family literacy program: "parent education,
child education, parent and child-together
time, and parenting skills education" (Porter
2003, p. 47) .
DeKalb County Public Library in Georgia.
1.2 Library programs for newcomers
(some examples)
• ESL programs
Halifax Public Library
• Multilingual computer access
The Central Rappahannock Regional Library in
1.2 Library programs for newcomers
(some examples)
• Cultural exchange
MetLife's Reading America program
• Workshops on community resources
Toronto Public Library
Library partnerships
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
Steps to develop partnerships:
Create a list/database of potential partners
Consider ways to advertise for partners
Research on partners’ mission/vision
Contact potential partners to evaluate their
interest in partnering with the library
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
Potential library partners:
• Government agencies
• Community-based organizations
• Organizations that work with specific
immigrant groups
• Adult education providers and English
• Universities colleges
• Faith-based organizations
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
Resources partners can provide:
• Access to community information demographics,
needs assessments, surveys, etc.
• Translation assistance
• Teachers for ESL or citizenship programs
• Donated materials and equipment
• Transportation assistance
• Childcare
• Legal advice
• Tutors and storytellers
• Assistance with grant applications, Financial support.
Examples of successful
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
• EPL provides Settlement Services at the library
– partnership the Edmonton Immigrant
Services Association (EISA)
• Program services include a wide range of
activities and information provision.
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
• EPL provides the English Conversation Circle (LACE
Program) - For newcomers who want to practise their
English. English Conversation Circle is part of Catholic
Social Services Learning and Community Enrichment
(LACE) program.
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
• In United States, Queens Borough Public
Library held a program on health issues in
partnership with the Queens Health Network
• The library provided health information in
• Queens – The most ethnically diverse county
in USA.
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
• Skilled Immigrant Infocentre: Provides
information on how get a job in their field of
education and experience. (VPL service)
Library Partnerships (ctd.)
• Partnership between “The Library Settlement
Partnerships Program(LSP)” in Ontario and
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) –
Provide Settlement services for newcomers.
Challenges of providing library services
to Newcomers
Budgetary concerns
Hiring qualified librarians
Technical support
Understanding from the public
3.1 Staff hiring challenges
• Overcrowded job description
• Lack of qualifications
• Lack of power in the position
-Mestre Lori: Librarians serving diverse populations
Technical support for multilingual
online chat reference service
• The portal issues
For the pictographic languages (Chinese,
Japanese and Korean) require different word
processing software and online chat software
supporting the display of these languages.
ni hao
ko n ni chi wa
a ni a se ou
Understanding from the
mainstream public
• Case studies on Mexican immigrants in rural
areas of the US
• “One penny is one penny too much.”
• a fear that tax dollars might be benefiting illegal
• a fear that the cultural aspects of their small
towns and rural lifestyle will be permanently and
drastically altered
• Bilingual library collections contribute to a
divided America (Julie Stephens)

Library Services for Newcomers to Canada & USA: …