Well, that Presidency went by quickly! As I find myself at the end of my two-year term, I continue to have a growing appreciation for the dedicated support of our volunteers toward the Ottawa Public Library (OPL). I have been honoured to act as the President of FOPLA, and I am inspired by the cumulative effect of everyone’s daily contributions to the fundraising operation. I would like to make special mention of a very special volunteer, Helen Tweddle, who started and managed the Bookworm at Cumberland Branch right up until her passing on March 24, 2018. She will be missed.
The past year was a successful one for the organization. We continued our growth in sales revenues, and over the course of the year made a total donation of $360,000 to OPL. The results of this donation were reflected in a wide variety of programs, new equipment, and new furniture throughout the library system. FOPLA’s sponsorship of OPL’s Canada150 programs also helped make those events available to an even broader portion of the Ottawa community. Notably, the Dominion Day Strawberry Social held at Nepean Centrepointe featured an entertainment stage with FOPLA highlighted as the major sponsor.
Our Communications Committee continued to raise FOPLA’s profile throughout the year. They have broadened our reach into new and more active social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, the latter with a custom-made video about our organization. The new FOPLA logo and branding are increasingly evident in our brochures and signage, and we continue to roll out the brand to increase the visibility of our bookstores as independent entities within OPL branches. The FOPLA website is a dynamic and ever-changing reflection of FOPLA’s activities, and I encourage you to visit us here often.
FOPLA’s Investment Fund Committee continued the transformation laid out in its Delegation of Authority and Strategic Investment Plan & Process documents. In 2017, we engaged a professional, Ottawa-based investment management firm with expertise in portfolios of non-profit corporations. Our Investment Fund assets were transferred to Doherty & Associates Investment Council, where they are now investing on our behalf to ensure the fund’s asset protection with a conservative growth strategy. We are well positioned to protect and grow the Fund for the future.
FOPLA’s Distribution Facility at the James Bartleman Centre continues to gain fame in the book-buyers’ world. Our monthly Mammoth Sales remain hugely popular, and our partnership with Better World Books is another significant sales channel, although online book sales are showing a declining revenue trend.
OPL’s Ottawa Central Library project is moving closer to reality every day and drawing global interest, with 33 submissions for the design contract recently short-listed down to five who will be invited to bid on the design. We look forward to participating in public consultations with the architectural team selected, to ensure the FOPLA outlet within that facility will be everything we and the public expect it to be. My sincere appreciation for the professional collaboration and support from our OPL partners in all our endeavours, including CEO Danielle McDonald, DCEO Monique Désormeaux, and our OPL liaison Philip Robert.
My deepest appreciation goes out to all of you, from our Friends who both donate and buy books, to our tireless volunteers in bookstores across the city, to those assisting us with critical committee work, and particularly, my FOPLA board colleagues. Without all of you, what we do would not be possible.
With my sincere appreciation,