File Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff Noah Nowochin and Aubrey Mattheis sort through magazines while volunteering in 2014 to help set up for the Friends of the Red Deer Public Library book sale taking place at the downtown branch library.

Library helped by dedicated Friends

Annual Red Deer Public Library spring book sale begins on Thursday

“It’s the little things that count, hundreds of ‘em.”

Those were the words of a pioneering computer programmer but they could be a mantra for the Friends of the Red Deer Public Library.

A few quarters or a loonie at a time, the civic-minded group of book lovers has raised tens of thousands for its projects through used book sales.

Take the twice annual book sales at the downtown branch’s Snell Auditorium. That bibliophile’s bazaar raises about $20,000 a year by selling books for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

“Sometimes (prices) skyrocket to $2 to $4,” says Friends president Lesley Caddy with a laugh.

It has proven so popular they added an extra day several years ago.

The dedicated group is already gearing up for this year’s sale, which begins with the members preview sale on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The general public sale runs Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Memberships cost $15 for individuals or $20 for a family.

Friends of the Library’s work is also in plain sight at the library’s Tom Stevens Bookstore. About $10,000 was donated by the Friends to transform a washroom and small office into a used bookstore that raises about $1,100 a month.

Friends also sponsors the Let’s Talk About the Arts lecture series and is co-sponsoring An Evening with Joseph Boyden, which will see the celebrated Canadian author speak at the Welikoklad Event Centre on April 25.

Another project that transit riders will have noticed is Books on the Bus. Used books are offered free on the bus to be returned or passed on once read.

“They started with four buses and now they’re up to eight,” she said.

The success of the Friends has not gone unnoticed. It was awarded the 2015 Gabriele Schreiber Friends of the Year Award. Sponsored by Penguin Random House Canada, the Friends received $1,000 worth of books, which they donated to a library children’s reading program.

“That was a really big moment. Our Friends are something else,” said Christina Wilson, library chief executive officer.

“This is only the second time in Alberta a Friends of the Library Group has won this award.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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