HISTORY OF FRIENDS OF THE LETHBRIDGE PUBLIC LIBRARY

1. The Society of The Friends of the Lethbridge Public Library was incorporated on August 6, 1992.
The Society was registered as a non-profit charity with Canada Revenue Agency in 1993.

2. The Friends of the Lethbridge Public Library functions as an incorporated body under Bylaws as required by the Alberta Societies Act. The Lethbridge Public Library has a Board of Directors that governs policy.  Library Administration governs Operations. Designated liaisons from each of these groups attend General Meetings of the Friends in a non-voting capacity, and meet with the Friends executive on request, again, in a non-voting capacity.

3. Membership in the Friends is sought through public notices in the community and in the library. Since some executive positions or projects demand specific skill sets, personal contact is often most practical, such as when seeking a treasurer. Generally speaking volunteers are easily found for activities such as book sales, but it is more difficult to find volunteers to serve as board members.

4. Traditionally the Library held a used book sale annually. The work was done by the Library staff and, to a limited degree, the Friends volunteered. In 1999 the Friends were invited to assume full responsibility for the sale on behalf of the Library. Due to lack of storage space and other factors an annual sale proved inefficient and the Society began a continuous book sale in 2007.

The Library provides centrally-located retail space in the Main Library and in the Crossings Branch Library for each of these stores called ‘Booktique’. While more volunteer hours are required annually to manage the continuous sale (sorting, pricing, stocking the shelves), revenues are correspondingly higher. The Friends receive a great deal of help from the Library’s check-out staff who take the money for purchased books.  This means that the Booktique is always available when the library is open. Occasionally the Friends have conducted a publicized additional one or two-day sale to reduce the volume of books held in inventory.  The budget to run the Booktique is minimal- price stickers, cello-tape and other minor costs associated with preparing the books for sale. The library permits use of a sorting/storage room and the retail space without cost. Annual revenues from the Booktique have averaged $13,700 since inception, requiring approximately 1300-1500 volunteer hours per year, and sales are increasing each year. This is approximately twice the revenue from the historical annual sale.

5. In 2013 the Library, with agreement from the City of Lethbridge, donated used computers to the Friends for resale to the public. All the donated computers were used by staff, not the general public, and had been wiped clean but were sold with a usable operating system. The sale was very successful and has been expanded to include other equipment, for example, furniture and cell phones, in subsequent years.

6. The Friends receive proposals for expenditures from the library director/board and funds are paid out upon receipt of invoices. Expenditures are for equipment, furnishings and specified projects which are outside the library’s annual operating budget. In the past 3 years the Friends have donated over $25,000 annually to the library. The Friends participate in a casino every 2 1/2 - 3 years and casino revenue must be spent in accordance with approved uses stated in the application to Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. In addition to expenditures against invoices, the Friends provide a cash donation to the library from book sale revenues each year.

7. The activities of the Friends center on a the continuous book sale in the Main Library, and the sale of both plastic and cloth tote bags at the check-out counter. Minimal revenue is received from co-hosting the yearly six-night Banff Mountain Film Festival with the Library. The Friends’ Society is approved with the AGLC to hold a casino every two-and-one-half to three years, for which Friends volunteers are required. Since the AGLC permits only non-profit organizations to participate in casinos this was one of the principal reasons for establishing the Friends’ Society, independent from the Lethbridge Public Library.

8. Since the library staff is unionized, the Friends do not undertake activities that impinge on the work of paid employees.

9. The Objects of the Friends as recorded by Corporate Registries of Alberta are:

10. Fulfilling the first of these Objects has been more of a challenge than the second. In 2013, however, the Friends of Lethbridge Public Library partnered with the Friends of the Galt Museum and Archives to hold a “Meet and Greet” session for candidates running for mayor and council. This proved to be very well received by the candidates and very well attended by the general public.