Sometimes we take our library for granted, not realizing that volunteers help to make it more than just place for books. Advocates for Airdrie Public Library (APL), established in 2012, is an outreach group that focuses on creating awareness and raising funds for the library’s projects and programs.
The Advocates try not to duplicate existing initiatives but do enhance activities, such as the Canada Day barbecue, by having a raffle in conjunction with an event. A mandate of the group is to work toward the new library.
The group has several active members and is governed by a board of directors. The annual membership fee of $5 includes voting privileges. Meetings are held at the library on the third Thursday of each month, 7-8:30 p.m. Volunteers who help with preplanned activities are also welcome.
“We are looking for more members,” says Advocates member Bibiana Cala, “because our fundraisers are getting bigger and bigger, but also it’s good to have different people so we have more different ideas.”
“Becoming an Advocate gives you the opportunity to give back but also gives you input on what you want to see in your library.”
Members – who come from all walks of life and various cultures and have ranged from young mothers to retired individuals – share a common love for and interest in the library. “It would be nice to have youth involved,” says Cala.
The group has sponsored and volunteered at Family Nights, has put on the Words Worth Wearing fundraising campaign for the past two years and would eventually like to participate in casinos as a way of raising funds. (The Advocates are a registered society and can access Alberta gaming funds whereas the library cannot.)
Marilyne Aalhus, APL fund development and marketing co-ordinator, participates in brainstorming sessions, bringing the library’s needs to the group which then decides which initiatives to pursue, but, she says, “The Advocates operate at arm’s length from the library. It’s up to them to direct themselves.”
Aalhus values her work with the group. “Becoming an Advocate gives you the opportunity to give back but also gives you input on what you want to see in your library,” she says.
Cala, who is originally from Columbia, volunteered, then became a library employee, and is now volunteering again. “The library made a huge impact in my family when we moved to Canada, she says. “I am also very thankful.”