Thunder Bay, Ont. — The Friends of the Thunder Bay Public Library have settled into their new location at the Brodie Library this week and celebrated the opening of their bookstore with the presentation of $12,000 to the library.
Tina Maronese, the library’s director of community development, says she can’t emphasize enough how important the Friends’ role is as a partner in helping to raise funds and for advocacy about the importance of the library.
“This is a group of volunteers, about 65 strong, who are doing an amazing amount of work and if we added up all of the volunteer hours every year, it’s thousands of hours,” Maronese said. “On top of that, they’re so willing to take on special projects for us. They’re just incredible, and working with them over the years, and helping them to raise almost a million dollars through their volunteering is no small feat. I mean, they would raise $30,000 a year at their bookstore selling books for a quarter.”
Maronese added that not only are they recycling books back into the community and reusing them, they’re also keeping many books out of the landfill. They raise anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000 a year through bingos, book sales and other initiatives.
“That’s not a small amount of money,” she noted. “It helps us fund new programs or new collections like our board game collection and a lot of specialty collections that we might not otherwise be able to afford to buy. The $12,000 that they gave us today will help fund building projects.”
Pamela Cain, the Friend’s board director and secretary, says the library space is a good fit for the group.
“It really cements the relationship with the library and encourages people who are visiting the library to come to check out the bookstore and people who come check out the bookstore to then check out the library,” Cain said.
“We have both been in the same neighbourhood of Victoriaville since 1991, so there’s a long-term history there and people are used to coming to this neighbourhood to find us.”
The bookstore has been constructed on the Brodie Library lower level in a bright and welcoming space. Cain says the move helped to declutter, refresh and regenerate the bookstore. Most of the books have been retired from the library and given to the bookstore. Other books come from people in the community who want to contribute to the fundraising efforts.
Over the last 36 years, the Friends of the Library group has supported and promoted the city library system by raising almost $1 million for improvements and enhancements of the collections.
“The opening of the County Fair Library and the new Mary J.L. Black Library are the milestones of these efforts,” Cain said, adding the Friends were the first group in Ontario to enter into an agreement with the Ontario Lottery Commission to host their mainstay bingos.
“Fundraising breakfasts, bucks for books campaigns, Bridge for books, cookbooks, line dancing, fashion shows, Definition Quest to get gala dinners and art sales, they’ve done it all,” she said. “Since 1991, the bookstore was located in Victoriaville, but the reality of that relocation was on the horizon and becoming obvious.”
She said with the search on for a new location, the library management stepped in with an offer that they couldn’t resist.
With the input of Open Mind Interiors, library and facility staff, the location of the walls in the new space was determined, Cain said.
She said Chris Gratton, the facility manager and his team, searched old storage areas and they cut, hammered and put the shelving into place.
“The work of the volunteers began sorting and boxing up the Victoriaville site, hosting a blowout buck-a-bag sale and then came the relocation and reshelving,” Cain said.
The shelves contain a large selection of books, CDs, DVDs and vinyl records which are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Oct 18, 2023 at 10:00