May 10, 2023
Libraries are so much more than books… I think of the diverse populations that use our libraries for education, inspiration, celebration, relaxation, to search for direction or maybe to experience some human interaction.Friends member Verla Carter, in a letter to the Gazette
When I look back on 2022, I am grateful for our dedicated Friends of the Library volunteers who have had immeasurable impacts on St. Albert Public Library over our 35-year history. Our first president, Bill Shields, once wrote:
“With your help, the Friends of the Library will be effective. With your involvement, it will help make the Library and St. Albert stronger. We urge you to participate – it will benefit you, the Library, and our City.”
This year, the Friends certainly lived up to this legacy.
In a year of advocacy, we raised our voices to help prevent devastating budget cuts to the Library. And in a year of learning, we met with three Friends of the Library groups across Alberta, sharing our experiences and learning about fundraising ideas.
Another Reel Monday season kicked off in January with Edge of the World, followed by 12 Mighty Orphans in February, Ride the Eagle in March, and Just Mercy in April. This season raised $2,165.78.
In February and March, we organized a Purdys Chocolatier Easter treats fundraiser once again, which has proved to be a hit with our supporters! We raised $895.75 this time.
As part of our “Friends Helping Friends” initiative (our effort to better connect Friends of the Library groups around the world) we met with the Friends of Edson & District Public Library in March, the Friends of Devon Public Library in April, and the Friends of Camrose Public Library in the summer. We highlighted our fundraising initiatives, advocacy, and our support of library activities and learned about their fundraising efforts.
During our Annual General Meeting recapping the 2021 year in May, we elected the following Friends Board: Graeme Matichuk re-elected as President and Marketing Chair, Sandra Fildes elected as Vice President, Verla Carter elected as Secretary-Treasurer, and Valerie Spink re-elected as Fundraising & Casino Chair.
In June, the Library honoured us with a plaque at Jensen Lakes Library for our $25,000 donation the previous year. We invited all casino volunteers who contributed toward this donation to attend an unveiling ceremony with speeches by Friends President Graeme Matichuk, Library Board Chair Bill Wells, and Library CEO Peter Bailey. We shared our strong belief that investing in our library’s growth is important work.
Several Friends participated in an engagement session on the Downtown Library refresh project, funded by a federal government grant and facilitated by Reimagine Architects, to share their vision for the Library’s future.
Unfortunately, midway through the year, the Library Board learned that City Council proposed a devastating $1.5 million cut to the Library’s budget over three years. In response, the Board launched a “Defend Your Library” advocacy campaign. The Friends supported these efforts by connecting with our social circles, writing emails and letters to Council, attending the budget presentation to Council, and writing letters to the Gazette with personal reasons why these cuts should not move forward. Ultimately, Mayor Heron moved and Council passed a motion to maintain the Library’s funding at 2022 levels, preventing the major proposed cuts but still sadly resulting in two staff layoffs. The Mayor reported that Council received 700 emails and letters in support of the Library!
In November, we contributed $2,625 toward a new water fountain with a bottle filling feature for the children’s library.
We donated $2,500 to STARFest from Reel Monday fundraising proceeds and many of us also attended the STARFest events.
For our winter Reel Monday season, we screened Love Sarah in September, followed by The Eyes of Tammy Faye in October, Mothering Sunday in November, and Peace by Chocolate in December. The audience especially loved Peace by Chocolate! This season raised $3,027.47.
The Friends of the Library in 2022 included Graeme Matichuk, Verla Carter, Valerie Spink, Sandra Fildes, Meagan Dechaine, Barb Moreau, Charleen Currie, Holly Ayotte, Joanne Root, Kathie Konarzewski, Marg Mazer, Sheena Sereda, and Wendy Stuart Hughes. Thank you to Peter Bailey, Leslie Greentree, and Rhonda Kozuska from the Library for supporting us with their expertise. Friends who participated through our 35th year were gifted commemorative bookmarks at our AGM on May 10, 2023.
In our 35th year, we reflected on St. Albert Public Library’s essential role in our community and the ways it has changed all of our lives. Fundraising and advocacy has been more challenging during COVID, but we will continue to relentlessly support the Library and all it offers St. Albertans. As our longtime Friend Valerie Spink says, “St. Albert’s library is more than a place to borrow books; it is a place where the community comes together.”
President, Friends of the Library
St. Albert’s library is more than a place to borrow books; it is a place where the community comes together. It offers a mix of services and programs that serve all age groups. Some of these services help employers find employees and help residents find jobs. Our library helps high school and post-secondary students with research resources and a space to study and meet with others to work on projects. Our library has shown over the years that its use numbers are among the top, compared to its peer libraries.Friends member Valerie Spink, in a letter to the Gazette
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