Immigration News @ Toronto

4 12 2011

CanadaThe photo above was taken by commonwealthlibraries.

It’s time for this Canadian girl to head back home.  Let’s see how the land of maple leafs, beavers, and the best maple syrup in the Commonwealth of Nations uses blogs in their eastern public libraries.  The next stop in our tour is Toronto.

Toronto Public Library Home Page

The Toronto Public Library provides an organized and rich home page.  Their home page is divided into three columns containing information on the library’s newest resources, featured programs, and social media.  However, I find that the website contains an overload of information.  So many hyperlinks jump off of the pages that it is hard to locate anything that is not specifically in bold font or highlighted.  The library’s resources begin to blend in to one large amalgamation of links, especially if one is not familiar with the internet or the English language.  Webreference’s article What Makes a Great Web Site? warns website creators to not provide too many graphics and information on one web page… unfortunately, the Toronto Public Library has fallen prey to this problem.

However, the library does an excellent job in providing access to its social media tools.  It is very easy to locate the library’s social media applications on their home page.  The library’s first column of information on their home page begins with a list of their most recently updated blogs.  The library hosts so many of its staffs’ blogs that there is even a directory (see it here).  The library’s blog directory organizes blogs by the last date they were updated, their categories, their library branch, and their title.  Thus, Toronto Public Library is a library blogger’s heaven.

 

New to Canada

While the library has blogs on a whole host of topics, I believe that their New to Canada blog is the most unique social media resource I have found on my tour.  This blog is specifically designed for individuals who are new to Canada, be that new immigrants, international students, or individuals with work permits and visas.  The blog is written by Toronto’s public librarians who seek to provide information on new changes to Canadian immigration policy and library resources for newcomers to Canada.  The existence of this blog illustrates that the Toronto Public Library has done an excellent job in distinguishing its user groups and meeting their information needs in unique and modern ways.

This resource would be easy for English-speaking individuals to use.  The blog’s information is categorized into relevant topics for people who are foreign to Canada – such as information on education, specific neighborhoods in Toronto, immigration, health, free services, jobs, and much more.  The blog’s organization enables English speaking users to easily find the topics they wish to explore.

While the blog promotes the Toronto Public Library’s multilingual resources (as seen in Iana’s Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?  Are You? post in New to Canada), there is no translation tool on the blog. I’m not sure if translation tools exist for blogs but I do know they are available for websites in general.  The use of a translation tool would improve access to the blog for all newcomers to Canada.  While the blog does provide information on the English language, such as Debbie’s post titled Conversations in Canadian English for English Learners in New to Canada, it seems to assume that people who are trying to learn the language are already able to read the blog’s content. Thus, I believe the ability to provide this tool’s information in other languages would be a great improvement.

I would use this blog if I were a new English-speaking immigrant to Toronto or even a new resident of Toronto.  I feel that a lot of the material listed on the blog could also correspond to Canadians who are new to the area.  For example, Debbie’s article Camping in the Summertime: An Excellent Way for Newcomers and New Campers to Learn About Ontario in New to Canada provides information for individuals who are new to the area (and camping, might I add) in general.  However, if I did move to a foreign country, even a country as close to Canada as the United of States of America, I know I would greatly appreciate a blog from  a reputable organization containing information for newcomers.

How does New to Canada fit in?

The Toronto Public Library also uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr which provides photographs of the library’s collections.

Facebook and Twitter provide information on events and programs within the library and will on occasion provide information on the library’s events which are targeted for newcomers.  However, the New to Canada blog is integrated with the library’s YouTube videos.  The library’s YouTube account provides information for English speaking library users.

A few YouTube videos relate to the Toronto Public Library’s immigration services.  Here is a video targeting newcomers to Canada:

To view the video on YouTube click here (torontopubliclibrary, 2009).

Thus, the Toronto Public Library utilizes social media in order to address the information needs of its many different users.  The library’s use of social media is unique in that it provides resources specifically for newcomers to Canada.  Toronto Public Library’s blogosphere is immense and definitely worth a closer examination.

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