Refugee Information

Using the library | Refugee assistance

Using the library 

Burnaby Public Library welcomes refugees from around the world to Burnaby! The library invites newcomers to:

  • get a free library card
  • use the library catalogue to search for materials to borrow
  • borrow books on learning English
  • attend our free programs for children and adults
  • use the library as a space to study, ask for information, or use computers or wireless network (Wi-Fi) for free
  • take home free publications from our Newcomers Resources in different languages

Information on using Burnaby Public Library is also available in Arabic [PDF] and in Persian [PDF].

Frequently asked questions about using the library

My sponsor group needs space for our planning meetings. Can we use the library?

Yes. Three of Burnaby’s four public libraries have meeting rooms available to non-profit groups at no charge. They are heavily used so it is best to book well in advance if possible. The Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch also has a Group Study Room (accommodates up to 10 people) that is booked on a first come, first serve basis on a given day.

Our refugee/settlement group would like a tour and to learn more about the library. 

We offer tours at all branches. Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch has the most resources for newcomers. Contact us to arrange a tour.

Can someone come to our refugee/settlement organization to speak on what the library has to offer refugees? 

Yes, we have librarians who can visit an organization and talk about library services. Contact our Community Outreach Librarian at 604-436-5426 to arrange a presentation.

I’ve just arrived and I don’t have identification from my home country, or identification that shows my new address. Can I get a library card?

Yes. We are accepting different identification for refugees including:

  • Single Journey Travel Document from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
  • Refugee Claimant document (Consideration of Eligibility)
  • ISSofBC Client ID card

For proof of address, we accept:

  • cell phone bill or cable bill
  • debit or credit card from a Canadian bank
  • letter from a settlement agency with your current address

Please let us know if your address, phone number or email address changes.

Do you have books / movies / materials in languages other than English? 

Yes. See the list of languages at library branches. The library also offers online newspapers in many languages through PressReader. There are also audio CDs and online resources for learning other languages, including English. Please note: we do not currently have books in Arabic but we have DVD movies in Arabic with English subtitles.    

Do you have resources on learning English?

Yes. We have a large collection of books, DVDs, CDs and online resources on learning English. You will find dictionaries, and books that will help you with English conversation, speaking, grammar, reading and writing. There are also study guides for IELTS and other English tests. The Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch has the largest collection of items you can borrow. Online resources for learning English include: Road to IELTS and Tense Buster (English Grammar). Mango Languages provides online English language learning courses (including other languages) that are available on your phone, tablet or home computer. To use online resources, select a resource and log in with your library card number.

Does it cost money to come to a library program?

No. All library programs are free to attend. Some programs require registration. We offer hundreds of programs a year including storytimes and other children's programs, teen events, English as a Second Language conversation circles, and classes that help develop job search skills, computer skills, understanding legal information, and more. Check our event listings for upcoming programs.

Is there someone who can help me learn about the library?

Yes. We have staff in all four libraries that want to help you! You can get help with any question and we can show you how to use the library. Ask at any desk or email us.

Can I use your computers for free?

Yes. All of our branches have computers that can access the Internet and have MS Office installed. Use your library card to log in. If you don't have a library card, ask for a free guest pass at any Information Desk. 

Can I use your wireless network?

Yes. Our Wi-Fi is free and you can stay and use it as long as you like while the library is open. Find your nearest Burnaby Public Library location and hours to use Wi-Fi.

Do you have printing, copiers, scanning and faxing?

You can use our computers for printing. Fees apply to some services such as photocopying and printing. From our scanning stations, you can scan documents for free and attach to email or save to an external drive. We do not offer fax services, but can refer you to local businesses that do.

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Refugee Assistance

If you are a refugee, a sponsor of a refugee or family of refugees, or a Burnaby resident wishing to support refugees integrate into Canadian life, here are some settlement resources that may be helpful.

  • Burnaby Public Library offers information, programs for children and adults, free wifi, public computers, reading and study areas, materials to borrow, and links to useful resources for newcomers. Learn more about using library services for refugees and sponsor groups, and explore more resources in our New to Canada section.
  • BC Refugees JobConnect is an online tool to support connection to employment for job-ready refugees. It provides a platform for refugee job seekers living in BC to showcase their skills, education and work experience and presents the profiles and résumés of refugee job seekers to BC employers looking for workers.
  • British Columbia Newcomers’ Guide includes information on topics such as housing, banking, health care, education, driving, employment and business, the legal system, government, citizenship and more. On this site, there are also English videos on money and banking, health care, transportation and government.
  • The Metro Vancouver Refugee Response Team (MVRRT) was created In late 2015 when the B.C. government created a Refugee Readiness Fund, designed to add to federal government efforts in aid of Syrian and other refugees.Responsible for an area that includes Burnaby and eight other municipalities in Metro Vancouve rthe (MVRRT) and its partners are working to identify refugee needs and provide appropriate services and supports.
  • NewToBC is a website that promotes public library programs, services and resources available to newcomers. It also has a list of common questions asked by newcomers about education, employment, health, housing and other topics.
  • ­Refugee Health provides information on health coverage and lists of dentists, physiotherapists and other community resources who speak other languages, accept IFH or offer reduced fees.
  • The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) provides training and information to sponsoring groups in Canada. The objective is to address their information and on-going training needs as well as the initial information needs of sponsored refugees. There are many information sheets, videos and other resources.

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