News Archive - 2016

FOPLA celebrates some of Ottawa's talented young writers with the tenth-anniversary publication of pot-pourri

The Friends were thrilled to celebrate some of Ottawa's talented young writers with a recent event to launch the publication of pot-pourri 2016. This marks the tenth year that FOPLA has published pot-pourri, which features work by the winners of the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors youth-writing contest. This year’s winners were announced in March, and included over 50 talented youth between the ages of 9-17 from across Ottawa. 

The young authors were invited to the Main Library's Auditorium on October 26th, 2016 to celebrate their achievements with family and friends, and were each presented on-stage with a copy of the anthology.

Guests were treated to readings from several of the winning pieces, as well as words of encouragement from Chantal Cloutier (President of FOPLA), Danielle McDonald (CEO of the Ottawa Public Library), and Catherine Austen, who acted as both Judge for the Awesome Authors contest and Editor for this year's anthology. The evening was hosted by Philip Robert (Manager of OPL's St. Laurent, Vanier, Rockcliffe Park & Rideau Branches). 

FOPLA is proud to publish pot-pourri and sponsor the Awesome Authors youth-writing contest as part of their commitment to support OPL's programming and services. The 2017 Awesome Authors contest will open on December 1st, 2016. All would-be young authors are encouraged to go to OPL's website ( after that date for full details.  

Limited copies are still available for purchase. Email or call (613) 580-2424 x14383 for more details. (Image Credit: Bridget Delarosil).  

Pot Pourri 2016-1    Pot Pourri 2016-2

Pot Pourri 2016-3   Pot Pourri 2016-4

FOPLA's Tallwood Facility once again accepting donations of used books

FOPLA's monthly Mammoth Used Book Sale

We're pleased to announce that thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, we are once again accepting donations of used books at our Tallwood Distribution Centre located at the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre (100 Tallwood Drive, Nepean). 

Due to ongoing space limitations, we ask that our donors please limit the quantity of their donation at Tallwood to 10 small boxes or less per appointment. Please refer to our donation guidelines for more information on what materials we accept, or call (613) 580-2424 ext.27875 to make a donation appointment. Donors must have an appointment to make a donation at our Tallwood Facility.   

If you have a small donation of used books to make to FOPLA, donations of two small boxes or less can always be dropped off at your closest Ottawa Public Library branch. We thank all our donors for their continued support. For questions, please email or call (613) 580-2424 ext. 27875. 

Former FOPLA President Colin Plows is awarded the Ottawa Public Library's prestigious Order of Friendship for years of volunteer service

Mr. Colin Plows received the Order of Friendship Award

The Friends are very pleased to congratulate former Board President and long-time FOPLA volunteer Colin Plows, who was awarded the Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) Order of Friendship award on October 11th. 

The prestigious award, which is bestowed by the Ottawa Public Library Board, recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions by individuals, groups, or associations that improve OPL’s ability to deliver services and programming to the community.

“It was a surprise and tremendous honour to receive this recognition by the OPL Board,” said Mr. Plows. “However, if I succeeded at all during my time as President it was only because I had the support and remarkable hard work of my fellow board members. We have worked as a tight-knit, cohesive team and supported each other every step of the way. Any success we have achieved is a shared success.” 

Since joining FOPLA as a Local Committee Representative for Cumberland-Orléans in 2010, Mr. Plows has demonstrated outstanding dedication to FOPLA’s advocacy and fundraising efforts for the benefit of the Ottawa Public Library. After becoming President of FOPLA’s Board of Directors in 2011, Mr. Plows helped strengthen FOPLA’s organizational structure, increased membership recruitment, and introduced strategic planning that raised FOPLA’s annual average contributions to OPL by more than 10 per cent.     

Mr. Plows is also esteemed for his ability to be creative and collaborative in his interactions with volunteers, other FOPLA Board members, and OPL staff and stakeholders. His commitment has helped ensure that FOPLA’s work will align with OPL initiatives for many years to come, and continue to strengthen Ottawa’s public library community. 

Mr. Plows is a retired naval officer who holds a Bachelor of Science, Physics and Physical Oceanography. He is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013) and the Golden Jubilee Medal for the Order of Military Merit (2009). The Order of Friendship was presented during the OPL Board meeting on October 11, 2016. 

Tallwood Facility celebrates 5th Anniversary of the Monthly Mammoth Sale with a bang

FOPLA 5th Anniversary Mammoth Sale

Dedicated volunteers at FOPLA’s Tallwood sorting facility, located at the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre, celebrated the facility’s 5th Anniversary of the Monthly Mammoth Sale on August 20. As FOPLA’s central book repository, Tallwood is our largest holder of used book donations in the city, and the venue for our monthly Mammoth sales. 

The FOPLA banner was proudly displayed at the sales table as volunteers welcomed customers, friends, and members of FOPLA’s Board of Directors to one of the busiest Mammoth sales this year. Dozens of eager bibliophiles were waiting to browse the selection when doors opened at 10:00 a.m., with sales totalling over $1,000 by the end of the event.

Balloons and bags of popcorn were given to the young and young-at-heart, and customers were invited to enter a raffle for a door prize as they came through the entrance. The lucky winner received one of a collection of FOPLA-sponsored pot-pourri anthologies featuring works from young Ottawa-area writers, and a five-dollar coupon that can be used at future Mammoth sales.

5th Anniversary Cake TallwoodAs a thank you for their hard work and commitment, Tallwood volunteers were presented with a congratulatory cake during the event. All the volunteers thanked their loyal customers for supporting the facility over the past five years, and look forward to connecting Ottawa’s book lovers with great reads for years to come.

FOPLA’s next Monthly Mammoth Used Book Sale will be held on September 17, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre (located at 100 Tallwood Drive). There are still plenty of great books waiting to be discovered, so we hope to see you there. For more information on book donations or volunteering with the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library, please contact

Come Celebrate Five Years of Friendship!

The Friends of the Ottawa Public Library (FOPLA)’s Tallwood Distribution Centre location will be holding its five-year anniversary of the “Monthly Mammoth” book sale this Saturday, August 20.

The sale will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre located at 100 Tallwood Drive, just south of Algonquin College. There will be “special sale items,” free books, and popcorn and balloons for the children.

FOPLA sells used books through bookstores, self-serve bookshelves, and monthly book sales like this one at Ottawa Public Libraries across the city. Books donated by the Ottawa community are sold at extremely reasonable prices (often just a dollar) to raise money for library materials and services not covered by the regular municipal budget. 

Each year FOPLA raises over $350,000 through the sale of high-quality, low-price books. Last year was the most successful year yet, raising over $420,000.

“FOPLA is proud to support a vital community institution, the public library,” says Bryant McNamara, the Vice President Communications for the group. “Fantastic sales like these are all thanks to our committed volunteers and customers. Without them this wouldn’t be possible.”

Books of all kinds are available at the sale and will range from hard to find collectors’ items, to classic literature, to new releases. 

Specialty books are available at individual prices and make terrific gifts! We will also have a great display of reference material for students going back to school.


For more information please contact:

Bryant McNamara
Vice President Communications 


FOPLA urges community groups to have their say on space use in new central library

Ottawa – June 7, 2016: The Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA) are encouraging community and business organizations to get involved in the planning process for Ottawa’s new central library. Two consultation sessions are being held later this month to seek input from the public on the spaces and uses to be included within the new flagship library location.

“The library plays a vital community role within our city, and determining how the new building’s space will be designed and used is a huge part of the planning process. This is the ideal time for grassroots organizations and business groups to bring forward suggestions from their members and staff to share their street-level expertise about our community,” said Colin Plows, President of FOPLA.

FOPLA has reached out to 50 community and business organizations in Ottawa to encourage them to take part in the two public consultation sessions, which are scheduled for June 15 at Jean Pigott Place at Ottawa City Hall and June 22 at Library and Archives Canada. Both sessions are open from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and no pre-registration is necessary. These sessions are intended to share the functional program that has been developed, incorporating both best practices and public input gathered in spring 2015, and to gather feedback on that program.

The Ottawa Public Library was visited in-person almost 5 million times last year, with 15,000 weekly visits to the current main branch alone. It’s used by local residents, by other library branch users, by those attending special programming, by people who work downtown, and by visitors to our city.

“Imagine what a new, beautiful, state-of-the-art library with great indoor and outdoor public spaces will bring to the downtown area. It can become a true destination, like a museum or Parliament Hill. Building it from the ground up offers a unique opportunity to create spaces for the needs of today’s library users – and tomorrow’s,” said Plows.

Interested parties can find more information on the planning process for the new central library at

FOPLA Contact:

Vlad Uher, VP Marketing and Special Projects
613- 804-2006

FOPLA is a registered charity that advocates for a strong public library system in Ottawa, promotes literacy in our community, and raises funds in support of the Ottawa Public Library. In the last four years FOPLA has gifted more than $1 million to OPL. Most of that money is raised from the sale of donated books at our used bookstores and book sales. The funds we provide to OPL are put toward library materials and services that are not covered by the regular municipal budget. More than 300 people volunteer with FOPLA, sorting books, managing stores, and serving on our committees and Board of Directors.



An old Friend retires


Marie Zielinska is a hoot. At 95 years old, she is a woman with several professions, librarianship being her favorite. Another field of interest is the organization of library Friends, and over the past two decades, she dedicated a great deal of her time and expertise to FOPLA.

I sat down with her to discuss her life of service to libraries. She begins our conversation by informing me she won’t be telling me anything about her boyfriends. Instead, we talk for the better part of an hour about a life spent in libraries.

She was wooed by the government (via the National Library of Canada, now Library and Archives) to implement the newly-adopted policy of multiculturalism and creating library services in heritage languages through the network of public libraries for all Canadians. Living in the Glebe, a few blocks from the then-city councillor Jim Watson, she met him at a variety of functions in the district and they became good acquaintances. When he learned of her background, he asked her to serve on the Ottawa public library board, which she did from 1994-97. When her term came to an end she decided she couldn’t leave the library system just yet, and began to volunteer in the Friends bookshop located at the main branch. She also served on the Friends’ Board.

Her time at the board was a time of many exciting changes for the group. Three local Friends groups amalgamated in 2003 and became FOPLA following the amalgamation of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton and its various public library systems. At that time, all of FOPLA’s functions were carried out entirely by volunteers; there were no paid staff.

Marie remembers that changes began to occur when Lori Nash became President in the early 2000s. Lori hired an office assistant to help with typing and other administrative tasks, helped to organize the various library branches into their current clusters, and instituted the concept of local committee representatives. She also created the annual pot-pourri anthology, which publishes winning poems and stories from the OPL’s Awesome Authors youth writing contest.

“She was very business-minded and helped to reorganize FOPLA. I was asked to consult on various possibilities – what could be done and how, with the Friends organization. It was a more efficient way of working.”

Unfortunately for Marie, it was decided that meetings would be held in a rotation at the various branches so the members of the Board could interact with more libraries. Marie found it difficult to attend the meetings at the various locations due to transportation challenges and stepped down from the FOPLA Board in 2007.

Marie decided to volunteer with the sale of books, first in the bookstore and later in the book bar, which operates two days a week in the entrance hall of the main branch. Marie worked directly with Mary Anne Dancey, a long-time and still active volunteer, who she described as “a dear friend and mentor, an outstanding person and a superior organizer.”

 “It was very pleasant and very friendly. Because of the setting (in the library’s entrance foyer) you always had so much happening around you,” Marie said. She recalled some of the interesting characters that were regular visitors to the book bar and wondered, years later, about their stories. Always interested in psychology, volunteering offered the perfect opportunity to observe how humans work.

It wasn’t all perfect. Due to the multiple doors in the library foyer, during the winter it was often bitterly cold and volunteers had to wear coats and mittens while staffing the sale.

“I didn’t want to get sick for my love of the library,” Marie said. As a result, FOPLA struck a deal with library staff that one set of doors would be locked when temperatures dipped below a certain number, thereby reducing the draft in the foyer.

Despite the cold days, Marie remembers her work with the book bar fondly.

“That was just a fantastic time. Mary Anne was an extremely generous person, a person who cared about the people who worked for her.”

During the 2008-2009 bus strike, Marie was the only volunteer able to staff the book bar with Mary Anne. Because they lived near one another, they could carpool together.

In recent years, Marie decided to slow down a bit.

“I started to get OOOOOOOLD. I could push the carts, no problem, but I could not stand for long periods, because of my back. So I was in charge of money and accounting. The work was stimulating, satisfying, and invigorating.” 

She finally retired from the main branch in late 2015 when she moved to a retirement home.

“My heart hurts to break my ties with FOPLA but in this case there remains nothing but to say goodbye to all my friends. I wish you many successes in your work as OPL Friends. May FOPLA grow with every year and develop for the benefit of OPL and all citizens of Ottawa.”

Want to learn more about FOPLA? Email us at! 

Temporary closure of Stittsville FOPLA bookstore


Please be aware that the FOPLA book store “A Good Read” at the Stittsville library branch will be closed from June 2 through July 16 due to renovations at the branch.  The store will be unable to accept donations during that time but hope that clients will hold onto any donations until they reopen. 

After the renovations the store will have a new location right as you enter the library. This new area will be very visible and convenient for clients. We look forward to welcoming you back to A Good Read in mid-July!

Second Editions enters its third decade


Second Editions, the Friends bookstore located at the Nepean Centrepointe branch of the Ottawa Public Library, opened its doors for the first time on October 3, 1995 under the auspices of the Friends of the Nepean Public Library or FNPL (which amalgamated with FOPLA in 2003). It became the second Friends bookstore in the city; the other store was (and still is) run by FOPLA in the basement of the Main Branch downtown. 

From its humble beginnings in a tiny space left of the library entrance, Second Editions has grown into one of the busiest Friends bookstores in Ottawa.

The shop was the brainchild of NPL staffer Sylvia Teasdale, who saw it as an opportunity for the Library to divest itself of book discards and donations, as well as to generate additional revenue. “By turning both the operation and profits over to the Friends group, it allowed the latter to hire someone to assume responsibility for all volunteer involvement at the Library. Library staff was extremely helpful and supportive in getting the shop open and in its continuing operation,” said Gwenne Goodlet, who became the FNPL’s paid Supervisor of Volunteer Resources and held the position for nine years. 

Barbara Skelly was one of the original volunteers at Second Editions. In the summer of 1995, she responded to an ad seeking a volunteer clerk for a soon-to-be-opened used bookstore, and “I left the interview as the inaugural store manager,” she said with a laugh. Working with a small team of dedicated volunteers, Barbara and Gwenne drew up plans for the layout of the shop as well the small sorting area in the basement (in a former janitor's closet). They spent time working out logistics for the sorting, transportation, and display of the books as well as the duties and safety of shop volunteers. In addition, they had to figure out the details on collecting, reporting, and depositing the money each day. 

Arrangements were made to bring extra books from the FNPL’s primary sorting area at the Bells Corners branch. The Library donated and installed shelving as well as a desk, chair, and telephone. The Friends purchased a used cash register and recruited volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to staff the shop. 

Fast-forward to 2016: Barbara is now one of three co-managers (alongside David Richeson and Janis Hopkins). Second Editions occupies a larger location on the other side of the library, and is staffed by a volunteer pool of 27 people, including clerks, sorters, and a management committee.  Janis Hopkins joined the team seven years ago and says it’s a happy and rewarding place to work. “Every day, when people come in and are so excited and happy to find books they haven’t been able to find anywhere else, and at a great price, it’s very positive, very rewarding,” she said. 

The store celebrated its 20th anniversary back in October with a sale and signage commemorating the occasion. They also gave out treats to customers to thank them for keeping the store in business for two decades.

Another original volunteer, Jean Sida, retired in January 2016 after over 30 years as a volunteer and treasurer. Now in her 80s, Jean started out delivering library materials to those who could not easily leave their homes) before moving to Second Editions when it opened. “I thoroughly enjoyed all the people that I met. Barbara made everything a lot of fun, it was a wonderful experience,” she said. “Originally there was a man who was the treasurer, but he moved away. I’ve always liked figures and counting money and that sort of thing, so I volunteered to be treasurer.” 

Second Editions has been a real success story. Its revenues help to fulfill the wish lists of library branches both in Nepean and elsewhere in our city. Many of the volunteers at Second Editions have been working with the store for a decade or longer. As one of the “elder statesmen” of FOPLA, their volunteers are often consulted by branches opening new bookstore locations. And, of course, they have scores of loyal customers who are thrilled with their extensive, generously donated inventory and fabulous prices! We wish them many more years of success. 

You’ve been framed! New art wall at Cumberland Branch


Thirty picture frames adorn the wall in the children’s section of the Cumberland Branch of the Ottawa Public Library, filled with beautiful art created by local school children. The frames were part of a wish list that was fulfilled thanks to funds provided by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library.

The art wall was inaugurated last spring with art created by students in grades 1 to 6 at École élémentaire catholique Alain-Fortin. Currently, artwork by students at Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic School is on display. The artworks are selected by teachers and remain on display for approximately four months at a time. The Cumberland children’s library team reaches out to a school in their catchment area three times a year to solicit new artwork, in an ongoing effort to support young artists in their community. 


Mini-library to house donated books at Carlington Community Centre


A number of children’s books donated by FOPLA to the Carlington Community Centre will have an adorable new home in this mini-library. 

New North Gower bookstore named for local historian


In April 2015, the self-serve bookstore area at the North Gower branch of the OPL was christened “Coral’s Corner” in honour of the late Coral Lindsay, a local historian, teacher-librarian, and author.  According to library supervisor Karen Craig, “She was our best customer! Every day that Coral was next door working in the Archives, she came over to the Library side to look over our cart of books for sale.”

The naming ceremony, a celebration of Mrs. Lindsay’s lifelong work in her community, was attended by former MP Bill Tupper who described her as “a great friend, an accomplished historian, author and librarian.”

Visit Coral’s Corner at 6579 Fourth Line, Road, North Gower. 

FOPLA welcomes two new staff members

Alison Larabie Chase joins FOPLA as Communications Officer and Administrative Assistant. She has spent 15 years as a professional communicator in the not-for-profit world, primarily in the performing arts, real estate, and higher education sectors. She is a prolific writer and maintains two blogs: one about writing and grammar, the other about cooking and restaurants. Some of her other favourite things are cats, music, sewing, and travelling the world. 

Greg Morrow joins FOPLA as Finance Coordinator. He brings 25 years of experience as an accountant in the business world, with specific experience in business consulting, international trade issues, and government and not-for-profit organizations. Currently pursuing the semi-retired lifestyle he enjoys cycling, swimming, canoeing and skiing. In the summer, reading under a shady tree while accompanied by a glass or two of wine can take up a lot of time. Other interests include contra and swing dancing, board gaming, card games and travel. 

New FOPLA Board members appointed

Last fall, FOPLA’s Board of Directors appointed four new members: 

Penelope Gould steps into the role of Vice-President, Operations, moving up from her former role as Member-at-Large. The VP Operations plays a leading role in fundraising activities, coordinating and overseeing our bookstores and book events, and seeking out new ways to raise funds. 

Bryant McNamara was appointed to the new role of Vice-President, Communications. Bryant’s role is to stay on top of library and FOPLA news, manage advocacy efforts, and ensure that FOPLA has a voice in City budget discussions. 

Vlad Uher was appointed to another newly-created position, that of Vice-President, Marketing and Special Projects. His primary duties will be to focus FOPLA support to the OPL’s New Central Library project.  

Chantal Cloutier joins the Board as Member-at-Large. As a Member of the Operations Committee, she is currently working on developing a code of conduct for volunteers and reinvigorating regular meetings of the bookstore managers.

The expertise and commitment of these four individuals, as well as all our other valued Board members, will be essential in shaping our 2016-2018 strategic goals, which we will share with you in our Summer 2016 newsletter.