Latest News

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

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! 

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




Donate Now Through!

FOPLA Newsletter

FOPLA summer 2015 newsletter

Summer 2015