The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear

The following poem is written by Library Champion May Wang. It took my breath away.

The Little Boy Who Doesn’t Hear
–Does he have hearing problems?
The teacher asks my mom.
–He doesn’t answer my questions,
And he doesn’t respond to other kids.

Yes, I hear you.
And it HURTS.

When Mom said we were moving to a new home,
In the most beautiful place in the world,
She was not lying.

Here trees and grass are forever green,
And there are flowers all year round.
Little bunnies peep at you from under the bushes,
Chubby squirrels nibble happily at your food.
Baby ducks waddle behind the big ones
Huge flocks of snow geese make spectacular sights

But all these put together,
Still don’t make happy homes,
Not even with the Spiderman costume on Halloween,
Not even with all the gifts under the Christmas tree,
Not even with everyday turning into no-homework day,
Not even with pinky clouds looking like cotton candies.

Not when mom’s eyes begin to cloud up with doubts,
Not when daddy is only a talking face on the screen.
And not when I don’t have a clue how to behave at school.

When do I stand?
When do I sit?
When do I talk?
When do I laugh?
When am I getting too close to someone else?
I am scared of this so called “personal space”.

Of course I hear you,
I just don’t understand.
I don’t even speak the language.
So I build a wall of silence for self-defense.

And when you ask my mom that question,
I hear you,

And it hurts

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No time to read? Try Audio Books!

Book club is coming up and I had absolutely no time to read the book. I did, however, have the time to listen. I had a long drive from Vancouver to Calgary ahead of me. I decided to get the Audio Book using my new borrowing privileges from the Surrey Public Library (I recently added the Surrey Public Library to my currently library card to increase my borrowing privileges).


Usually, I arm myself with music on my iPhone for the drive. After about 8 hours, I get pretty tired of the selection that’s on there and simply drive in silence, willing the time and the miles to pass quickly. This time, I took along my book. I plugged it into my CD player and started the drive. It was fantastic.

I was transported into the book by the voice of the narrator. I was taken. The same road that I’ve travelled so many times was suddenly not the same boring drive. In fact, I didn’t really even notice the drive (though it was beautiful!). I was busy focusing on the ever thickening plot of the novel. Time passed, daylight waned, the book came to an end. Before I knew it, I was in Calgary. The drive hadn’t seemed as long.

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I wished I had brought more books for the ride home (I managed to finish 3!). I am looking forward to doing this again, as well as exploring other audio opportunities; I have been wanting to learn another language. I know where I’ll be headed for my next visit to the library: the audio languages section.



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Connecting to Communities through Summer Festivals

I try to make a point to take my girls to the various festivals that occur throughout the Lower Mainland. There are two reasons for this: fun, and exposure to culture and diversity. It’s fun to explore new neighbourhoods – each has it’s unique stamp: people, organizations, pride. It’s also nice to see the diversity of each place we visit and how it changes demographically, by a few kilometres.

Recently, we visited the ‘Hats off Day‘ festivities in Burnaby. We meandered up and down Hastings. We stopped to climb all over a fire truck and discussed how firefighters work hard to save lives. We witness the ribbon cutting of the new South Burnaby Neighbourhood House. We watched gymnasts jump ridiculously high on trampolines and imagined the girls as future gymnasts. We stopped at the Burnaby Public Library and had a reprieve from the busy-ness of the day (My favourite! Have you seen the “I Spy” Table?!).


The following week, we participated in ‘Car Free Day‘ in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood. Again, the street was closed and I watched as my girls took over the street with no care for cars. A clown gave the girls balloon creations, the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund had volunteers paint their faces, and music played on to the beat of ‘Swing’ as dancers demonstrated their magic.


With summer festivities in full swing, and opportunities abound, I reflect on the importance of such events. Attending these events give me a sense of community. Belonging. I can ask questions that I wouldn’t otherwise ask because my children are curious (I can ask on their behalf). I lose my inhibitions this way and feel closer to those who take the time to give to the community to give us these days.

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Human Libraries: Modern Day Oral Storytelling

In books, I am swept up in the story of another life, and whisked away to an alternative reality. In oral storytelling, I am drawn in further; it’s like I can visualize, more clearly, the story and the characters as a result of the visual cues, the emotions, the facial expressions and the first-hand experiences. This is why I was so excited about the Surrey Libraries (Semiahmoo Branch) Human Library initiative. I could borrow a human book to hear a story and ask questions as the tale unfolded.


I rented two human books (believe me, I wanted to rent more!): Christian-Catholic (Peter) and Pagans-Order of Scáthach (Michael and Sara Lasure). I was given 20 minutes to converse with each and, let me tell you, it was fun, enlightening and heartwarming. Each ‘book’ explained their journey to finding their religion and the impact it had on them and how they connect with their world. Each explained the guidelines of their religion to me in simplistic terms, enthralling me in the process. Each answered any question I had with patience and respect.

I left with a sense that something in me had shifted and I spent some time reflecting on the impact of what I received during this brief encounter. What I realized is this:

      • I received a human connection to the story being told; a first person perspective full of raw experience, emotion and history.
      • I became hungry to learn more about each respective religion.
      • I connected to another person, at a very deep level, within the 20 minutes; deepened by the lack of fear I had in asking questions and receiving profound responses in return.
      • I increased my knowledge about another religion and expanded my world as a result.
      • I was connected to a person within the religion who I could contact if I had further questions.

I am looking forward to the next Human Library when it hits a library in the Lower Mainland and I would encourage you to participate in this transformative experience. In the meantime, I have some reading to do!

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One Card Many Libraries

“I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.”
― Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf

Each library offers its own unique treasure. My home library offers much, but I look forward to seeing what other libraries have to offer in their troves. Surrey Public Library (Central Branch) is located right next to my workplace so, naturally, it would be helpful to me to borrow materials from there as well. Lucky for me, I can (and it’s EASY!).

Step 1: 
Bring your Library Card and 1 piece of photo identification to your desired borrowing location (this location is particularly spectacular!).


Step 2: 
Wait for the next available super-awesome library staff member to assist you (so awesome, they should be wearing a super-hero cape).


Step 3:
Ask to have the librarian to add borrowing rights to your existing library card, then wait for them to do their magic.


Step 4: 
Listen carefully as the librarian explains your borrowing privileges.


Step 5:
Wander the library and look for your new ‘sunk treasure’ (I know, right?! It’s amazing!).

(I can’t wait to add the Vancouver Public Library to my borrowing privileges next!)


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A piece of something larger

I took my girls to the Fraser Valley Regional Library the other day. We were in desperate need of new stories to read at their bedtime. It was close to dinnertime, so I made the assumption that we would have the library to ourselves. Instead, I discovered a mother and her daughter whom we’ve not seen for a while – a chance to catch up on each other’s lives. After a brief visit, another mother, who we didn’t know, walked in with her two sons.  We conversed with them, as it goes with parents of small children. Needing to get home for dinner, my girls borrowed their books and we left, content with the time we spent there.

Once the stories were read and the children were in bed, I had a moment to reflect on this experience. I thought of the many ways that a building that houses books, workshops, seminars, events and other great resources for the general public, acts as a community hub. Here is a place where we can walk in and enjoy as much, or as little interaction with others as we wish. We can get lost in our thoughts, or we can be found sharing common ideas, goals, and space. Minds can be expanded and challenged, skills can be learned, and new friendships can be made.

This reflection is likely not a new revelation to you, but it did make me pause. It made me realize how much more I feel connected to my community when I enter the doors of my library. I belong. I fit in. I am a part of this living, breathing community and I am a better person for it. I hope my girls, too, will experience the contentment and belonging I feel here.


(The girls enjoying the puzzles in the childrens’ area)

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Library Connections

Moving from Morocco is no small step. Volunteering as a Library Champion after having been in Canada for only 9 months is also quite bold. Jamila Imrani has done both. She’s learning more about libraries and, in turn, is helping other newcomers adjust to life in BC. We caught up with Jamila recently; here’s what she had to say about this project:

What strikes you most about the differences between the libraries here and the libraries where you’re from?

There is a big difference between libraries here and the ones in my country. To begin with, there is no connection between libraries in my country. In addition to this, The books or what ever you borrow must be returned to the library you borrow from. And a library card is used only for the library mentioned on it.

 Why did you become a Library Champion?

Because I found library very interesting for me, I registered for this project. By learning more, I will help newcomers to get more information for their new life in Canada. Me too I’m a newcomer, and I know very well how its feels to be in a new country. It’s like a fish out of water.

Tell me about the Library Champion Project. What is your role in this?

This project is the best way for newcomers to give them all information they need. As a newcomer, I can learn more new things from this project and then teach it to others. Due to the introduction of this project by one of my classmate, I first felt curious as well as doubtful about all what she said. Later on, I discovered all she told me about libraries is true. After that, I decided to spend lots of time in the library because I found it useful and very interesting. Two months later, I registered for this project and was selected. Now that I’m a Library Champion, my role is to let newcomers know all I’ve known about libraries in BC. Sharing information and introducing libraries to people will facilitate there new life in Canada.

What’s your favourite library here?

To be honest, I like all libraries. But the most ones I spend more time in are New Westminster Library and Vancouver Public Library.

What is the library service that you use the most?

The ESL Learning Centre.

 What is the library service that surprised you most?

All libraries in BC are connected to each other? It’s unbelievable but true.

Register in one library is enough. And by using one library card we can borrow whatever we want from libraries in BC.

What are you most excited about with this project?

It’s amazing to see libraries in BC work together and with newcomers to develop, using Social Media to offer more than access to all kind of services that are available in Libraries in BC. All for free. 

What recommendations do you have for other newcomers to BC?

Don’t panic. Be more confident and go out to attend newcomer’s program so that you can get all information you need. Go to libraries. You are welcome in BC Libraries.

*It sounds to me like Jamila is taking her own advice to heart. She is most welcome in the BC Libraries and she is doing the best at utilizing all services and locations available. 

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