FOCAL / BRODART Community Service Award 2008

Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association

FOCAL / BRODART Community Service Award Presentation

                                               Left to Right: Barbara Clubb, City Librarian Ottawa Public Library,
                                               Cindy Oskam, General Manager  Brodart, Jocelyn MacNiel, FOCAL
                                               Regional Director and Nicholas Spillios, FOCAL Past President


The recipient of the BRODART/FOCAL Award  in 2008 was the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library. This is the first time that a Friends group has been recognized with an award recognizing efforts in community service.

The award recognizes the significant role that Friends Groups can make in promoting library services in the community by underlining the contribution of Friends in one or more areas including community partnerships, community outreach, advocacy, and impact on community life.

In the Award Committee's opinion, the Ottawa Friends superbly documented the activities of their Association in their application and addressed the intent of the Award, namely to recognize a Friends Group for outstanding community service. In the opinion of the Committee, Ottawa Friends showed a high level of leadership in embarking on a city wide awareness and publicity campaign using a range of media opportunities to prevent library closures and protect the Ottawa Public Library budget.

The Ottawa Friends have ably demonstrated a successful model in planning for advocating in the preservation of public library service. Their aggressive advocacy tactics involved community partners and community outreach as well. The fact that no branches were closed, and no hours were cut means smaller community libraries will continue to exist in the rural areas.

The ability of the Friends to work with the library and mobilize community support is fabulous. Their decision to defend ALL branches and define library services as a “core service” ensured support from all corners of the city, and made advocates out of every library user. The use of an Internet website, Facebook and an online petition showed how technology can be used as tools for advocacy and community engagement.

They were successful in launching a city awareness and publicity campaign which resulted in preventing library closures and cuts to the Ottawa Public Library budget. The campaign,   SOS (Save Our Services), embraced a host of technological advances. Their Internet website, Facebook, YouTube, wire service, print, letters, e-mails, telephone calls and an online petition each served as used as tools for advocacy and community engagement.

With an active Advocacy Committee serving as a standing committee of the Board, the Friends covered both elections and the annual budget process.  While the quality of submissions was high, the manner in which the Ottawa Friends met the challenge of threats to library services serves to illustrate the importance of Friends in enhancing and preserving library services.

FOCAL expresses its thanks to BRODART in making possible the award. The Ottawa Friends will receive the equivalent of $500.00 for equipment and supplies. Ottawa City Librarian, Barbara Clubb will receive the award on behalf of the Ottawa Friends at the Canadian Library Conference in Vancouver.

Friends' website -
Campaign website -
Online petition -

Other awards:

2008 - June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism recognizes those who have enriched their communities through voluntary action and extraordinary leadership and creativity.

Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA) of Ottawa consists of more than 500 members who contribute more than 20,000 volunteer hours annually to the Ottawa Public Library. They are also active in raising funds for programs. Through coin boxes and used book sales, the group generates up to $250,000 annually for the city’s library system.

June 25th was declared officially declared as Friends of the Ottawa Public Library (FOPLA) Day by Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien. The Friends also received a  Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Ottawa for Community Activism.

“The Friends are an absolute treasure,” said Chair Harder, “due in large part to the unflagging efforts of their President, Lori Nash. The OPL is one of the best library systems in Canada and our Friends group is one of the big reasons for our success. They deserve this special recognition and our board members and staff say Bravo!” (

Presented at the American Library Association conference, June 2008 - A Friends of the USA Libraries
Baker & Taylor Award for outstanding achievement by a library friends group