Meet an LSP Worker: Paulomi

July 24, 2023 | Amena

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Library Settlement Partnerships (LSP) Workers are staff from seven local settlement agencies who offer dedicated newcomer support at fifteen library branches. Well-informed LSP Workers offer both one-on-one services and group programs to assist newcomers as they adjust to life in Toronto.

We interviewed Paulomi, an LSP Worker, to learn more about her and her work serving newcomers in a library setting. This interview has been edited for length.

Settlement worker seated at a table and listening to the man sitting across from her
Paulomi assisting a customer

What is a typical day for you, or is there a typical day?

Every work day is different, but I start with checking my messages and emails and responding to them. Each day, I usually see one or two new clients and three or four returning clients. I help newcomers and their families with their many needs with finding information about education, employment opportunities, immigration and housing. But I also help to connect people to food banks or assist with applications for child benefits or visas. Most days when I arrive at the branch, someone is waiting to talk to me. Every day is busy, but I can see that people are in high need and I am happy to help.

How long have you been working in settlement services?

I have been working in settlement services for fifteen years. I spent one year as a counsellor for violence prevention. And then for the last fourteen years I’ve been a settlement worker at the library. I’m sure some people are wondering, "Why has she been here for so long?" It feels like I’m at home when I’m here.

What drew you to this career?

I’m an internationally-trained teacher, and I used to be a supply teacher. While at a school, I met a school settlement worker, and she was the one who encouraged me to enter into this career and suggested I attend training for assistant settlement workers.

When I came to Canada and landed at the airport, I received a package with information about and 211. I spent my first three months reading everything I could find about settlement and citizenship, so the training program was a refresher. When I began working in the sector, my whole mindset of settlement work was challenged. My migration experience to Canada had been different but I was learning first-hand that people face so many barriers to overcome when they are newcomers.

What do you like about working in a library setting?

As a student, I loved going to my university library and the British Library in my home country - but I had to pay to use the library. When I came to Canada, I hesitated to visit the library because I was concerned about fees. But I went to my local library branch and realized everything was free. I thought, "I like this environment." Libraries in my home country were not accessible to all and our libraries only had books, whereas libraries in Canada have much more to offer.

TPL offers services like Book-a-Librarian where people can focus on what they want to learn, and  free Wi-Fi. These are services that no other library system would offer [in other parts of the world].

The library holds a wealth of knowledge, and newcomers need to seek knowledge to successfully integrate into Canadian society. Toronto Public Library creates a family-oriented space that is welcoming to every individual. It is a place where all family members can come together regardless of age. There is something for everyone.

What is your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of my job is helping people and putting a big smile on their faces. I want to uplift the spirits of newcomers by giving them confidence and letting them know that they can overcome barriers.

With LSP and the library, we serve everyone irrespective of status. In other organizations, services are available for newcomers based on funding limitations. Our doors and services are open to everyone.

And the library staff are so knowledgeable and empathetic. They listen to all the patrons who come in with different needs and they help them. We work together, hand-in-hand, for the community despite the fact that I am from a different organization. I am a part of the library family, and I want to express my gratitude to all the staff there.

Settlement worker and customer smiling at the cameraPaulomi and a happy customer

In addition to individual appointments, LSP Workers support newcomers by offering in-person and online programs. Online LSP programs take place via a third-party platform and settlement workers can provide guidance on using these platforms. Contact LSP Workers directly to learn more about the help they can provide, both in-person and remotely.

If you missed it, check out our Interview with LSP Worker Enas from 2022.

Library Settlement Partnerships (LSP) is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

LSP logo

Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) logo in English and French