Libraries are there to help you find your job
October 16, 2017

It’s been about 10 years since I moved to Canada. As other newcomers  do, I spent several years in improving my English skills in the government funded English programs for immigrants. During the years, not only could I improve English skills but also met great mentors on my way to get my current job, a Library Technician at Surrey Libraries.

My effort to improve English started in the Coquitlam Continuing Education and also volunteered in my communities: local schools, and city-wide events. Completion of Foundations English and High School English 11 & 12 in the continuing education took about 3 years but was worth investing my time and effort because it qualified me to enter the Library and Information Technology program (LibIT) at UFV with a bursary. Although partially covering my tuition for the 2-year program, the bursary really motivated me to study further because spending extra money and time in schooling is not an easy decision to me like other immigrants. I had tried different jobs before starting the program at UFV to find work without further education. I worked in lawyer’s and dental offices as a receptionist but soon realized that it would not be my permanent job. So, I decided to go back to school to reacquaint myself with current knowledge in Library Science. I used “reacquaint” because I achieved a bachelor’s degree in Library Science from Korea. Do you wonder why I chose the same program? Here’s why.

It was 2013 when I attended Opening Doors to Employment in Libraries Workshop as a Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Project by Surrey Libraries. By that  time, I was finishing English 12 at the continuing education looking for what to do after the English program. The multicultural librarian at Surrey Libraries was the instructor for the workshop and encouraged me to take master ‘s program after hearing about my previous background from Korea, saying that there was a shortage of Korean librarians in BC. So, I applied for the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at UBC, but my application was turned down because my TOEFL score did not meet  the requirement, which was quite high and I would have to spend several months in upgrading it. Also, the advisor at UBC recommended me to take upper level courses at a local university to prove my academic skills to the school. Instead, I chose the program at UFV where I could achieve a library technician diploma after graduation.

It took me 3 years to graduate from the program, and two months before my graduation, I was hired by Surrey Libraries as a casual Information Services Technician. Now I feel that I am truly included in the community where I’ve been living for 10 years, benefiting from the community and contributing my skills as well as paying taxes to the community.

Surrey is known for many supportive programs for newcomers such as Library Champions in the libraries, Settlement Services for Newcomers and English Conversation classes. Surrey Libraries are in the centre of those programs connecting people and public agencies as well as providing great information and resources. Moreover, the libraries are committed to serving diverse members in the community with more than 20 different language materials and multicultural library staff.

In retrospect, I’ve never been sure of getting a stable job even though I tirelessly made an effort to do so. I just kept walking step by step toward my goal, finding opportunities and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  During the journey, information about jobs was crucial and there was no better place than public libraries to get information and to build basic skills. No doubt it was Surrey Libraries in my case as you see. So, please do not hesitate to come to your local libraries to improve English, find information  to learn necessary skills for your future job, and to connect with people in the community. You will meet friendly, supportive library staff who can guide you to the  right information and programs.

This story was shared by Mun Chang in support of Surrey NEW.