The value of public libraries

By: Elie Ngoy

Published on July 20, 2022

Libraries are a great source of information and community for many newcomers to Canada. Within these public libraries, newcomers have access to unlimited resources, community information, social programs and an opportunity to learn new skills that can benefit them as they look to settle. It is also a great way to develop a love for Canadian literature, history, and culture. 

Photo: Pixabay (Pexels) 

Public libraries are not only a rich source of information but are also often a bridge to the local community and its rich history. Newcomers can access a wide range of resources within the library system, and often, the significant benefit is the staff who are dedicated to assisting newcomers with help on tasks such as writing resumes, settlement assistance, ESL programs, and finding work. 

How to access your local public library resources 

As of 2022, there are over “265 Public boards across Ontario” and “45 First Nations public libraries. Each of these boards provides 1,157 public library services throughout the province. These services include mobile bookshops, resource centres, book deposit stations, and local library branches. Visit the Ontario library service to find your closest library branch. On this website, you will be able to access links to each specific library, its hours of operation, address, resources available, and how you may get there using public transport services. 

How to register for a Public Library card 

While visiting a library and accessing its daytime resources is available to everyone, in order to borrow material or utilize computers, one must register for a library card. In order to do this, you must prove that you have the right to work or live/learn in Canada. Many libraries will require identification that will verify your name and physical address, rented, shared, or owned.  

Once accepted, public library cards are often issued for a year. After that, they must be renewed each following year in person at the public library. Depending on the branch, you may also be eligible to renew it online. 

What resources and programs can newcomers access in the Public libraries?

Across Ontario, many public libraries have an assortment of programs and resources specifically tailored for newcomers. Many libraries will also give you access to tools for those preparing for the Canadian Citizenship Test. Here are some examples of libraries in Ontario that offer resources and programs for newcomers: 

The Mississauga Library – Newcomer services 

The London Public Library  – Settlement Services

The Toronto Public Library – New to Canada  

Oakville Public Library – Newcomer programs + Services 

Guelph Public Library – Newcomer Services 

Markham Public Library – Newcomers 

The value of public resources 

Public libraries across Ontario are an important part of Canadian history and culture. 

They are a way for newcomers to learn a new language, improve their English, speak with Settlement workers, and meet other people in the community. Apply for a library card today and you will soon have access to this large set of free resources available to you. Welcome to Canada!

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