Friends for 30 years


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/03/2022 (443 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

“If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.”

Cicero’s words are on display above the entrance at the Millennium Library. For 30 years the Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library have done their utmost to make sure library patrons have everything they need.

Some of my best friends are books. And those books have friends who are dedicated volunteers at the Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library. As a charitable non-profit organization, the Friends, as they are known, promote literacy and learning in consultation with the managers of the 20 branches of the Winnipeg Public Library system.

The Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library recently commissioned a new logo for the non-profit charitable organization.
The Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library recently commissioned a new logo for the non-profit charitable organization.

“Volunteers are the heart of our program,” says Friends president Rita Burgess. The friendly voice who replies to queries on the Friends answering service belongs to one such volunteer, Heather Graham. She worked at the Transcona Library when the idea of a Friends chapter began and now in retirement she serves on the board as secretary, works the book sales and has been a valued resource for 25 years.

For Burgess, former president of the Winnipeg Public Library board and now at the helm of the Friends, it’s the volunteers who “are essential to our community.”

Through fundraising efforts, the Friends have been able to help libraries adapt to changing needs with projects such as state-of-the-art computers, video and photo equipment. They also funded 3D printers and sewing machines which are part of the ideaMill makerspace on the third floor at Millennium Library, where visitors can create in a collaborative milieu.

By raising over $325,000 since 2000, volunteer fundraising funds a writer-in-residence, preschool programs, family literacy playgrounds, spring break activities and prizes for summer reading contests for school age children.

While the pandemic curtailed book cart sales and the annual fall book sales, the Friends adapted and went on-line to sell items also available at their Best of Friends Gift Shop. Adapting this way has meant sales from all over the world for unique items sourced by gift shop manager Kathy Blight. President Burgess is particularly proud of a top-selling calming candle exclusively designed for the Friends by Coal and Canary. She is equally proud of the Friends new logo.

“Our board of directors worked with a professional designer to create the new look for FWPL. We feel it represents the diverse group of people who use our library spaces to read, learn, create, play and connect. The colours chosen are now the official branch colors of FWPL.”

Three decades of promoting literacy and building community is what the Friends are all about. As Heather Graham says, “we have adapted our fundraising and friend-raising to meet the needs of the public library system.”

It’s good to have friends like these.

To learn more about the Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library visit

Heather Emberley

Heather Emberley
Crescentwood community correspondent

Heather Emberley is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. Email her at if you have a story suggestion.

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