Lesley Caddy still gets emotional thinking about her time as a little girl at the Red Deer Public Library.
“I can still see the shelves, you know the angled ones where certain books were on display. That’s the first spot I would go,” Caddy, 60, said.
She visited the library as a young child when it was located on the north side of Ross Street. Her father, Vernon Caddy, was a longtime member of the library board, throughout the 1950s and ’60s. The library is celebrating its centennial this year.
She sits back while taking a break at Sunworks where she manages the bookstore and thinks about how it isn’t all that strange that she somewhat followed in his footsteps.
Caddy is the president and book sale director of Friends of the Red Deer Public Library, a group exclusively dedicated to fundraising for the local library.
She stumbled into the role after seeing a cart of books for sale 15 years ago by Friends.
“I thought, well this looks like something I’d enjoy and all are welcome, so I went to a board meeting and became a director that night.”
Friends, started in 1994, has gone from bringing in a couple thousand dollars a year to being able to hand over typically $20,000 a year — all from Central Albertans donating and buying used books.
The group hosts a semi-annual book sale in the Snell Auditorium at the downtown branch of the library and also runs the Tom Stevens Friends Book Shop (which opened last May) in the lobby, where used books can be purchased year round. All proceeds go towards Friends, who in turn give back to the library, contributing to things like the summer reading program, sponsoring First Thursdays concerts, children’s literacy workstations and self-checkouts.
In the past, Friends has helped fund library furniture, the fireplace at the Dawe branch and the sound system in the Snell.
Its spring sale just wrapped up this weekend, with at least 20,000 books on display for a fair price somewhere between 50 cents and $3.
Older, hardcopy books are more expensive, such as the 100-year-old British Navy book on knots that was donated, as well as another old book, in its original dust jacket, on the care of livestock.
CDs, vinyl records and DVDs are also available at the sales. One year, volunteers had quite a laugh over a number of Russian adult VHSs that were dropped off as a donation, Caddy said, noting they were picked up pretty quickly.
The sales, which began in the mid 1990s to help expand the children’s section, generally ring in about $1,500 each.
Over the last decade, the group has also been gradually donating more and more books to organizations around Central Alberta, such as Bowden Institution, various Red Deer schools, senior living facilities, thrift stores, the Red Deer Native Friendship Society and the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
New this month, Friends is also working on collecting a number of specified titles to send to the Edmonton Institution. They are also beginning to discuss helping Maskwacis start their own public library.
“Literacy is really important. We’re happy to give books away to where they’re needed. … They can be expensive bought new and it’s just nice to get books out into people’s hands for a low cost so more can enjoy reading,” Caddy said.
The 40 volunteers involved with Friends handle at least 100,000 books a year, Caddy said, many donated from those who are moving and downsizing, or from relatives of the recently deceased. The RCMP also donate books in good condition that they’ve seized in operations.
Caddy hopes to increase the number of funds raised by the group more and more each year, aiming for a five per cent increase for 2014.
To donate or for more information, call Caddy at 403-346-5721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.