By Dr. Rajwant Chilana
In some of libraries, staff organizes adult and children’s programs in non-English languages. Selected libraries have children story times where library members can take their kids, and also borrow excellent picture and bilingual books. In some branches there are Punjabi book clubs where people meet to discuss popular books in details. Reading programs featuring ethnic author’s readings are also arranged from time to time. Diwali and other Indian festivals are celebrated every year in some libraries located in Surrey Delta, Langley and Abbotsford.
Find Out Your Neighborhood Libraries
Here is a list of some libraries in BC where people can become members and enjoy reading of books and magazines in their own languages, and participate in various programs:
- Surrey Public Libraries- provide excellent services to its members through its knowledgeable staff and have large selection of ethnic material located in nine branches. They have largest number of books and magazines in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu in Canada. For more information, visit: http://www.surreylibraries.ca/ or phone: City Centre: 604-598-7420, Cloverdale: 604-598-7320, Fleetwood: 604-598-7340, Guildford: 604-598-7360, Newton: 604-598-7400, Ocean Park: 604-502-6304, Port Kells: 604-598-7440, Semiahmoo: 604-592-6900, Strawberry Hill: 604-501-5836, and Administration: 604-598-7300.
- Vancouver Public Libraries– is the largest library system in BC with more funds, staff and books located in over twenty branches. They have fairly good collection of books in Punjabi and Hindi languages. For more information, visit: http://www.vpl.ca.
- Fraser Valley Regional Library– is one of the largest library systems in the province and serves a population of over 700,000 through 25 branch libraries located in Delta, Abbotsford, Langley, Maple Ridge, and other municipalities. For many years, FVRL has offered library materials and services in various languages. In recent years there has been substantial growth in ethnic membership, and they continue to provide excellent library services and materials to their diverse communities. They have a good number of multilingual staff to help their patrons. For details visit: http://www.fvrl.bc.ca/.
- Richmond Public Library– has been serving the community since 1976 through its five branches. Though not much material in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu languages is available in these branches, however, people residing in Richmond are getting books from Surrey and Vancouver libraries. For details visit: http://www.yourlibrary.ca/
- Burnaby Public Libraries– have very few South Asian languages books and staff though there are many Indo-Canadians tax payers residents in the city and also very popular Punjabi writers live in the area. Most of the residents of Burnaby borrow Punjabi and Hindi from the Surrey and Vancouver libraries. There are no any children or adult programs or outreach for the South Asian communities in the BPL. For details visit: http://www.bpl.bc.ca/
- Coquitlam Public Library– has only two branches for the residents, and not much material is available for the Indo-Canadian community. For details visit- http://www.coqlibrary.ca/
- Port Moody Public Library- has only a few DVDs in Hindi, and no books in Punjabi and other Indian languages. For details visit- http://library.portmoody.ca/
- Squamish Public Library– Please visit- http://squamish.bc.libraries.coop/
- New Westminster Public Library– has two branches but not much material in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu languages. For details visit- http://www.nwpl.ca/
- North Vancouver City Library- For details visit-http://www.nvcl.ca/
- North Vancouver District Library– has three branches but no material in Indo-Canadian languages. For details visit- http://www.nvdpl.ca/
- West Vancouver Memorial Library- For details visit- http://westvanlibrary.ca/
Future Challenges: Public Libraries in BC are faced with the challenges of a growing Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi speaking population, diminishing budgets, and increasing demands from patrons for books and quality services. Simply providing Indic collections is no longer adequate. If municipalities are really serious in providing quality services to South Asian community, there is utmost need for more funding for library material, adequate staff with languages skills, and introduce various new programs. Outreach programs may be conducted frequently to attract more and more South Asian people in the libraries so that they may make use of collections & services. Library management and staff should be asked to visit Sikh Temples, Mosques, Hindu Temples, Senior Centers and other agencies to inform about membership and services. For the convenience of Indo-Canadian members, library brochures should be translated into Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.
Dr. Rajwant Singh Chilana is Managing Director of the India Bookworld, 117-B, 12888-80th Ave (York Center), Surrey, BC, V3W 3A8, www.indiabookworld.ca