Empowering New Beginnings: How Canadian public libraries support immigrants and refugees

Published August 22, 2023.

Canada's welcoming spirit extends beyond its breathtaking landscapes and diverse communities.  

Public libraries across the country play a crucial role in helping immigrants and refugees settle into their new lives. In collaboration with the Edmonton Public Library (EPL), the Windmill Microlending blog has gathered insights into the kinds of services public libraries offer to newcomers, exploring the broader range of offerings found in libraries throughout Canada. 

Logo of Edmonton Public Library

Edmonton Public Library (EPL), like many across Canada, offers services tailored to the needs of immigrants and refugees newly arrived in Alberta.

Public libraries across Canada embrace the responsibility of supporting immigrants and refugees. Just like Edmonton Public Library, these institutions offer a wide array of services designed to facilitate integration, language acquisition and overall well-being.  

Strengthening employment prospects 

Canadian public libraries are committed to empowering immigrants and refugees on their journey towards finding meaningful employment. These libraries offer a range of services that are tailored to help newcomers integrate into the Canadian job market seamlessly. Resources like job coaching sessions, resume workshops, and interview preparation classes are readily available to equip immigrants with the skills they need to navigate the job-seeking process effectively. 

For instance, Edmonton Public Library provides online platforms like Brainfuse JobNow, which offers real-time job coaching and assistance in crafting a compelling resume that stands out to employers. Immigrants can access invaluable guidance on tailoring their credentials to meet Canadian standards, ultimately increasing their chances of securing employment. By leveraging these services, newcomers can gain a competitive edge and embark on a successful career journey in their new home. 

Enhancing language skills 

Adapting to a new country requires proficiency in its official languages, and Canadian public libraries recognize this essential need. Libraries offer language programs and resources that cater to different proficiency levels, supporting immigrants and refugees in their quest to master English or French. Language barriers can hinder social integration, employment opportunities, and overall confidence; thus, libraries play a pivotal role in breaking down these barriers. 

For example, EPL offers resources like the Road to IELTS program which delivers targeted English language learning designed specifically for newcomers preparing for language proficiency tests. By strengthening their language skills, immigrants can better communicate, engage in community activities, and access educational and employment opportunities. Libraries become invaluable partners in this journey, helping immigrants feel more connected and confident in their new surroundings. 

Fostering community connections 

The transition to a new country can be isolating, but Canadian public libraries strive to create a sense of belonging for immigrants and refugees. Beyond providing essential services, libraries serve as community hubs where newcomers can connect with fellow residents, share experiences, and develop meaningful relationships. Many libraries organize cultural events, language exchange programs, and workshops that facilitate interactions and encourage a deeper understanding of Canadian society. 

For instance, language and community enrichment programs, often organized in partnership with local organizations, offer newcomers a chance to engage with locals, exchange cultural insights, and build lasting friendships. These connections extend beyond the library's physical walls, contributing to a more integrated and fulfilling experience for immigrants and refugees. 

Accessible and inclusive 

The best part of these services is their accessibility. Most of the resources and programs provided by Canadian public libraries, for immigrants and refugees, are available free of charge and only require a library card for access. This inclusivity ensures that every newcomer, regardless of their background or financial situation, can benefit from the support offered by these institutions. Canadian public libraries stand as beacons of inclusion and empowerment, guiding immigrants and refugees towards a successful and fulfilling life in their new home. 

Canadian public libraries extend a warm welcome to immigrants and refugees, offering services that empower them to find employment, enhance their language skills, and forge meaningful connections in their new communities. Through tailored resources and programs, libraries contribute to the holistic integration of newcomers, ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed on their new journey. Best of all, these services are readily available and accessible, reflecting the inclusive spirit of Canada and its commitment to embracing diversity. 

In conclusion, public libraries across Canada stand as beacons of support for immigrants and refugees, offering vital services that ease the transition into Canadian society. These libraries, in collaboration with local organizations, strive to create inclusive environments that nurture newcomers' growth and empowerment. With resources ranging from settlement guidance to language learning and job support, public libraries truly exemplify the welcoming spirit of Canada. 

Remember, as you embark on your journey in Canada, your local public library is ready to be your partner in building a bright and successful future. 

Explore public libraries across Canada 

For more information on the services provided by public libraries in major Canadian cities, feel free to visit their official websites. Learn more about Edmonton Public Library’s offerings for newcomers, here. 

  1. Vancouver Public Library
  2. Calgary Public Library
  3. Montreal Public Libraries
  4. Ottawa Public Library
  5. Halifax Public Libraries
  6. Winnipeg Public Library
  7. Quebec City Public Library
  8. Mississauga Library 


Categorized in: A Newcomer's Journey, Settlement and Life in Canada, Newcomer Health and Wellness,