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

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. 

FOPLA's Tallwood Distribution Centre temporarily NOT accepting donations

Tallwood Distribution Centre

Thanks to the extreme generosity of Ottawa's book lovers, our Tallwood Distribution Centre at the James Bartleman Archives and Library Materials Centre has recently become overwhelmed with large donations of used books. 

Due to space limitations, the capacity of our storage area at Tallwood has been reached. As a result, we are TEMPORARILY NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS OF USED BOOKS AT TALLWOOD. This will allow us to process our current used book inventory, and distribute materials to our stores and self-serve book stalls throughout Ottawa.

Stopping donations at Tallwood is a temporary measure, and we ask that you check our website soon for an update on when we will be accepting donations at Tallwood again.

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 understanding, and their continued support. For questions, please email or call (613) 580-2424 x27875. 

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

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!

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. 






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FOPLA summer 2015 newsletter

Summer 2015