Tuesday, 16 January 2018 05:29

Newcomer Welcome Centre partnering with Swift Current's library

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A new partnership between the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre and the Swift Current Branch Library will provide an opportunity for newcomers and community members to create connections through a monthly event at the library.


Newcomer Library Connections will start on Jan. 23 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the library.
Each monthly event will be an opportunity for newcomers to check out the services available at the library and for community members to learn more about different cultures.
“The library has been a great partner with us in many of the programs that we do,” Newcomer Welcome Centre Executive Director Icasiana de Gala said. “So we’re always looking for something new to do with the library.”
She noted that other settlement agencies, for example in Calgary and Edmonton, have similar partnerships with libraries to provide library settlement services that connect newcomers to services and resources in the community.
“So we thought it’s something that we could also do here,” she said. “Newcomers also go to the library and those who don’t go to the library, maybe this is a great chance for us to pull them in the library and take advantage of the services in the library. At the same time for just the community in general it’s an opportunity for us to tell them about the services at the Welcome Centre and maybe expose different cultures there, because one of the things we plan to do is bring a person from a different culture every time and this person could just be a resource person.”
The partnership provides an opportunity for the Swift Current Branch Library to connect with newcomers and to provide them with information about the resources and services that are available in the library.
“We want to make sure that newcomers in our community know all the great things that they can do at the library, and that the library is here for everybody to use, including newcomers,” Library Manager Andrea McCrimmon said. “I think that a lot of people don’t realize all the wonderful resources that they have access to at the library for free. So we hope that this partnership with the Newcomer Welcome Centre will encourage newcomers to feel welcome and comfortable using the library.”
Many newcomers are already using the library, but the library is always looking for ways to connect with people who are new in the community.
“It will be a really good chance for people to talk to the library staff about how to use the library and we can give them a tour and an orientation, get them set up with library cards, and show them how to borrow things,” she said.
For each event the Newcomer Welcome Centre will set up a station in the front area of the library near the children's section, where people can drop in to visit with them. There will be a cultural aspect to each event to give community members an opportunity to learn more about the cultural backgrounds of people who are coming to the city.
“We always believe that integration is not just newcomers learning about the community, but the community learning about the different cultures,” De Gala said. “So every program that we do always target both newcomers and the community members in general because we are informing them about newcomers and the cultures that are here.”
Each Newcomer Library Connections event will take place on a Tuesday, which is usually a very busy day in the library with many users present.
“We’re really hoping that it will give the wider community a chance to meet newcomers to the community,” McCrimmon said. “We chose that day so that we would get the most people in the library at the same time together so that everyone would have a chance to meet and talk to each other and make new connections, because I think it’s really important for the whole community to embrace newcomers and to make them feel welcome here.”
One of the main purposes of the initiative is to provide a friendly and relaxed environment for people to meet and to interact.
Cassidy Andres, a settlement worker at the Newcomer Welcome Centre, said the presence of staff from the Newcomer Welcome Centre at the events will be helpful to newcomers who are unfamiliar with the library.
“So having some of our staff there every time that we’re in the library can help them,” she said. “We can invite specific families and say we’re going to be there today, do you want to come, and we can get you started at the library. ... It kind of eliminates that barrier that they might be unsure of what services the library has or who to talk to and stuff like that.”
Settlement workers from the Newcomer Welcome Centre provide support to newcomer students in schools and the Newcomer Library Connections initiative will be a means for newcomer parents to develop new connections in the community.
“It helps them to participate in the community,” she mentioned. “[If] there’s an interaction between a community member and a newcomer, that right there is a good way to help them understand Canadian culture. We can introduce them, get conversations going and I think that it’s really going to benefit daily life for newcomers and the community together.”
Newcomer Library Connections start on Jan. 23 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Swift Current Branch Library. Future events will take place on Feb. 20, March 20, and April 17.
For more information, contact the library at 306-778-2752 or the Newcomer Welcome Centre at 306-778-6262.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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