As advocates of a strong public library system we raise over $250,000 each year for library materials and services not covered by the regular municipal budget, with most funds coming from the operation of used bookstores, self-serve bookshelves in library branches, and specialty book sales run by volunteers.

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Who is FOPLA?

We are the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association. Although we’ve been around for a long time, many people don’t know we exist. If they have heard of us, they may still not know what we do. So today we are going to tell you our story. 

We raise funds for library materials and services.

First and foremost, we raise funds in support of the Ottawa Public Library. In the last four years FOPLA has gifted more than $1 million to OPL! 

How do we do it? Most of that money is raised from the sale of donated books at our used bookstores, self-serve bookshelves in library branches, and specialty book sales. The funds we provide to OPL are put toward library materials and services that are not covered by the regular municipal budget.

Our first used bookstore opened in 1984 at the Main branch of the library in downtown Ottawa. Now we run 5 bookstores and 21 self-serve bookshelves in library branches across the city, and hold monthly Mammoth book sales and other special sales. 

To help promote literacy in our community, we sponsor the OPL’s Awesome Authors contest, and publish the winning entries from the contest in the pot-pourri anthology. Our donations help build the library collections in both official languages. 

We have roots in three separate groups.

The current incarnation of FOPLA was created in 2003 when three pre-existing library friends groups amalgamated: the Friends of the Nepean Library, the Friends of the Cumberland Library, and the Friends of the Ottawa Library. 

Originally the Friends of the Ottawa Library, FOPLA was one of the first library friends groups in Canada, becoming a registered charity in 1981. Since then, we have grown to become the leading fundraising Friends organization in Canada.

We advocate for the library and promote literacy.

We participate in the annual budget debates at Ward and City Council meetings, and take every opportunity to publicize the library, its programs, and its services. We know that the OPL is a highly efficient system operating at the most reasonable cost when compared to similar municipal libraries across Canada. We strive to build upon and protect that achievement.

Some of our past advocacy successes:

In 2007, our Save Our Services mail-in campaign helped prevent the closure of 10 library branches

In 2008, our advocacy efforts helped prevent a reduction in the 2008 library budget 

In 2009, we advocated to federal government for infrastructure grants

In 2010, we launched the Love Our Libraries campaign to track candidates’ views of the OPL before the municipal election

We have a lot of help.

More than 300 Ottawans volunteer with FOPLA, and without them we couldn’t be successful. From sorting books to managing stores and serving on local committees and the Board of Directors, our volunteers contribute their skills and time to support their public libraries. The talent and commitment of our volunteers is something FOPLA is very proud of, and volunteers are proud of their work giving back to the library. 

FOPLA also has two part-time employees who provide a link between our community, our volunteers, our supporters, and our Board of Directors. Contact the FOPLA office with your questions.

You can help us, too.

There are many ways to support FOPLA’s cause. You can donate books, volunteer your time, purchase books from our sales and stores, or become an official member. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities or become a member. We would be so grateful for your support – and so would your public library!


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. 

Book a time to browse our books


Can’t wait until the next Mammoth sale to find a good book?

Visit us by appointment any weekday! We have thousands of books for you to peruse.

Just call our volunteers at (613) 580-2424 ext. 27875 to arrange a time to visit. Please note that, for safety reasons, children are not permitted in Room 149.

James Bartleman Centre
100 Tallwood Drive, Room 149

FOPLA is a non-profit group that supports Ottawa’s public libraries. If you visit us by appointment we ask that you make a $5 minimum donation, which will be credited toward your purchase. 



Ninth Edition of pot-pourri Launched with New Cover Designed by Local Pre-Teen


Photos: Natalie Wilson,

On October 22nd, in front of an audience of largely family and friends, six young writers read their published poems and short stories (three in English, three in French), giving attendees a hint of the writing skill exhibited in pot-pourri 2015. Now in its ninth year, the pot-pourri anthology features the winning poems and short stories from this year's Ottawa Public Library Awesome Authors youth writing contest. 

Twenty-five of the 51 authors featured in the collection joined us for the celebration and book reading. We also revealed a new cover, designed by the winner of this year’s pot-pourri Cover Design Contest, Milong Wang. Support budding talent and fill out our order form to order a copy of pot-pourri

2016 submissions to the Awesome Authors contest will be accepted  by the Ottawa Public Library until February 2016, so please encourage aspiring writers between the ages of 9 and 17 to send in their writing. Perhaps their works will be featured in next year's edition of pot-pourri.

See photos from the event

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Donate Now Through!

FOPLA's 2014 Contributions

Latest Events

Monthly Mammoth book sale!


Our mammoth-sized book sale in a monthly format 

Next sale:

Saturday, June 25
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre, 100 Tallwood Drive

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