History of the Friends of Strathcona County Library Society

In the Beginning…How it all Began – Establishment and Planning

In 1972, a group of Strathcona County residents decided the community of 26,000 should establish its own library and petitioned County Council for legal sanction to appoint a library board.  On February 14, 1977, The County of Strathcona Municipal Library welcomed the community to its home in the newly constructed County Hall in Sherwood Park.

In 1989, it became apparent that there was interest in forming a “Friends of the Library” group, as other public libraries have, to raise public awareness of Strathcona County Library and to raise funds to support library projects. 

On July 7, 1992, a Proposal for the Formation of the Friends of Strathcona County Library was discussed by the Library board along with interested community volunteers.  The following individuals formed the Steering Committee:  Jayne Mortenson, Director; Dale Sheward, Public Representative; and Mary Knights, Board Representative.  The proposed primary focus was to be fund-raising, public relations and advocacy.  The timing was thought to be right because of the opening of the new library facility on the lower level of the Sherwood Park Mall (the library was previously located in the Strathcona County Hall).  As well, in the mid 1990’s, municipal funding from the Provincial Government was decreasing and there was a freeze on direct provincial funding to public libraries identifying a need for alternative sources of revenue.

On April 21, 1993, an organizational meeting took place and Friends members in attendance were:

  • Les Cockburn
  • Dave Eastham, Steering Committee
  • Mary Knights, Library Board
  • Helen Lavender, Steering Committee
  • Hugh Lavender
  • Jayne Mortenson, Library Director
  • Marlene Smit
  • Eleanor Stiles
  • Lisette Vienne, Steering Committee

At this meeting, the Constitution and Bylaws of the Friends of the Strathcona County Library Society were adopted, and the election of officers took place.  The following individuals were elected to the Executive:

  • Dave Eastham, President
  • Eleanor Stiles, Vice President
  • Marlene Smit, Treasurer
  • Lisette Vienne, Secretary

On May 13, 1993, the Friends of Strathcona County Library Society was incorporated under the Alberta Societies Act.  In the application to form the not-for-profit society, the objectives of the Society were laid out:

  • Aid in providing funds to meet special library needs
  • Promote library services
  • Advocate on behalf of the County of Strathcona Municipal Library – the name of the municipality changed to Strathcona County in 1995.

Throughout the years, the Friends of Strathcona County Library has been spearheaded by community members but a close liaison with the Strathcona County Library board and staff was established and continues to this day.  Many of the volunteers have connections to the library including a former library director and library board members.

Fund Raising:

Since its inception in 1993, the Friends of Strathcona County Library has raised over $500,000 for the Strathcona County Library through fund-raisers, casinos, raffles including 50/50’s, and grant applications.  Initially, Friends of Strathcona County Library organized the Home Based Business Trade Fair, raffled off gift baskets, etc. 

1999 – Ongoing

Sherwood Park Mall Administration approached the library to see if they would be interested in organizing and coordinating a Christmas gift wrap fundraiser.  This is an annual fund-raising event and continues to be a great volunteer opportunity and awareness builder.

2003 – 2016 Casino Funding

An application was made to the AGLC for a gaming license to work a Casino. Our first casino, in 2003, raised $24,181.  This Casino was followed by 5 more successful ones:

  • 2006 – $28,957
  • 2008 – $18,638
  • 2011 – $17,329
  • 2013 – $21,214
  • 2016 – $20,050

2009 – 2018 – Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation

In February 2009, the Friends were offered an opportunity to sell 50/50 tickets at the Edmonton Oiler’s games and receive a portion of the money raised.  The first event raised $12,724 followed in 2014 – $8,000, and in 2017 – $6,000.

Book Sales:

The Library hosts 4 book sales annually and volunteers with the Friends of Strathcona County Library supports these sales through volunteer hours.

Events:

2001 – 2016:

A Water Garden Tour was developed, and this self-directed tour allowed participants to visit gardens with water features in Strathcona County and on the east side of Edmonton.  The event was a huge success and, in 2010, the Friends celebrated the 10th anniversary with repeats from the previous 9 years and showcasing the “best of the Best”.  Subsequent years involved a change to the name and it became the “Garden Tour” with a shift in focus to outdoor living and xeriscaping.

2006:

In 2006, the Friends created a Historical Tour which took place in Strathcona County.  Connelly- McKinley provided a bus and the tour started in Sherwood Park and moved out into the County of Strathcona, lunch was included. 

Also, that year, the Friends participated in the Easter Egg-stravaganza which took place in the Sherwood Park Mall and took over the organization of the event the following year.  Donated coupons, primarily from Mall merchants, were obtained and placed in envelopes for sale.

2008:

In December 2008, the library launched a $1.5 million Capital Campaign to purchase books, shelving, furniture and equipment for the new library scheduled to open November 1, 2010.  The Friends were extremely active and raised over $30,000 to support the Campaign. 

Books Bites & Bubbly: 2013 – Present Day:

The first Books, Bites & Bubbly took place on November 4, 2013 and has a place in the annual calendar of events.  In 2018, the name was changed to Books, Bites & Boutiques to reflect the move from a wine tasting event.

2017 – Social Media:

In 2017, a web site was created and continues as a work in progress.  The web site allows members and volunteers to sign up to receive information about the events and sign up for volunteer positions at the various events.  The web site has become an invaluable tool in promotion of the work of the Friends of Strathcona County Library.

2018

This is a landmark year for the Friends of Strathcona County Library as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.  Celebrations include the recognition of previous and current volunteers.

Coinciding with its 25th anniversary year, the Friends has adopted a new logo. What does this logo mean? Quite a bit. Not only is it a logo that is unique to the Friends of Strathcona County Library, it carries some key elements of who the Friends are: enthusiastic individuals, independent of the Library, yet supporting the Library, classically represented by an open book, with flair and confidence but who take their role seriously, who are not afraid to sign their work.