Who are we?
The Friends of the Vancouver Public Library is a community of library lovers who volunteer, fundraise, and advocate in support of the Vancouver Public Library.
What do we do?
Our goals are to:
- Raise funds for library collections and special projects
- Build membership
- Promote and assist in library programs when requested
- Initiate special projects
Friends also operates book’mark, The Library Store, on the main level of Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
How do I get involved?
- Become a member by going to book’mark or any VPL branch and buying a Friends membership for $5.
- Get in touch with us! Our office staff can let you know what kinds of volunteer opportunities are currently available and get you started. If you already have an idea of what you would like to do feel free to let us know! We may also contact you with opportunities based on the volunteer interests that you check off when you become a member.
Who’s on the Board?
- Darius Maze is Chair of Friends of the VPL. Darius joined the Friends board in April of 2017. Professionally, Darius has experience in fundraising, marketing, events, and communications. An advocate of social justice, equality, and inclusion; he serves as Chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Diversity & Inclusion committee and dedicates much of his time to supporting local causes and events that foster these values. Talk to Darius about fundraising and events with Friends. Darius loves the library because it provides a community space that encourages us to encounter and learn from new people and their ideas.
- Bethany Benoit-Kelly Currently a communications manager, Bethany has built a career out of words and stories, but has been an enthusiast of books and libraries for much longer than that. She is excited to lend her nearly 15 years of experience in communications to the Friends of the VPL. Talk to Bethany about writing, editing, storytelling, strategizing, branding, website management, publishing, or how and when to bend the rules of grammar and style. Bethany loves the library because it always rises to meet you in each new phase of life. As a youngster, the summer reading club at the local library was the highlight of her year. As an adult, the library has seen her through job hunting in a new city, becoming a parent, and adjusting to a long transit commute from the suburbs. You name it, the library has you covered.
- Monika Brar joined the Friends Board in June 2020. Her superpowers include being able to connect various aspects of a business/program/ operations to the financial process, ultimately leading to financial information that is easier to comprehend. She also leads financial operations across multiple different countries whilst attempting to communicate in creative ways where language and physical barriers exist. She looks forward to generating creative ideas around existing functions of Friends of VPL and new, innovative ideas that will create an abundance of benefits to being a member of the group and increase membership levels. Monika loves the library because it created a community for her and an opportunity to connect with new parents. In addition, it allowed her young daughter an opportunity to interact with the world through early childhood literature, music, and playtime with other babies.
- Stephanie Chin joined the Friends board in June 2020. Stephanie is an accountant at a national public
practice firm and is excited to lend her analytical skills to the Friends of VPL Board. She has fond memories of visiting the library at a young age on a weekly basis with her mother. She loves the cozy atmosphere of libraries and the wealth of knowledge they provide. Stephanie is originally from Edmonton and enjoys the food scene in Vancouver. Her superpower would be that she’s always thinking about her next meal!
- Bianca Cowan joined the Friends of the VPL Board in June 2020. Bianca has worked in the finance industry for over 10 years. She is happy to share her financial background and board experience with the Friends of the VPL. Bianca is passionate about reading, sustainability, hiking and cycling. Talk to Bianca about anything related to finance and business, or cycling the city. Bianca is passionate about cycling Vancouver with her daughter in their cargo bike. Bianca loves the library because of the great children’s programs and the immense resource to life long learning.
- Lisa Culbert joined the Friends board in June of 2020. Professionally, Lisa is Counsel, Legal Design & Operations – a hybrid business development and legal counsel role. On the business development side, Lisa assists with the implementation of the firm’s business development strategy and the integration of project management and design-thinking to enhance client service. In her legal practice, Lisa focuses on corporate, commercial and technology matters. Reading books and spending time in countless libraries led Lisa to a fulfilling and innovative legal career, and she delights in the opportunity to mix her creative nature with her technical training. She is excited to bring her governance, project management and design-thinking skills to the Friends Board. Lisa loves to dance (all genres, but especially Ballet) and loves the library because like dance, it is a way to bring people together, to learn and to grow.
- Lian Furlong joined Friends of the VPL in February 2017, and became a board member in April 2017 to serve as secretary. She just completed her MA in English Literature and will begin studying for her Masters in Library and Information Sciences this Fall. Talk to Lian about memberships and volunteering with Friends, or inquiries about our Board. Lian is excited to contribute her skills to the important work Friends does, as she believes public libraries offer all citizens indispensable opportunities for community-building, intellectual growth and creative stimulation.
- Devon Hayley Farrell joined the Friends board in May 2019, but started volunteering as an office coordinator/manager for the Friends in February 2018. She has been helping Friends to improve our member database and pull reports to help us better engage our members. Devon has been working in admin since she completed her undergrad in English Lit in 2015, and she loves to take organizational systems and make them more efficient. Devon is also a speed reader — reading something like 40 books in the last 4 months. A talent we are happy to have on our board! You can talk to Devon about becoming a member, inviting your friends, and engaging in the Friends & VPL community. Devon has loved the library since childhood, and is thrilled to be currently pursuing her dream of becoming a librarian.
- Christain Kruse joined the Friends board in June 2020 as the representative of book’mark, The Library Store where he is a volunteer. Christian is a life-long library fan and professional librarian whose career started at VPL too many years ago to remember! Talk to Christian about the great new merchandise arriving at book’mark, volunteer opportunities in the Store, or anything else you may be wondering about. As a librarian, he loves matching questions with answers. And that’s why he loves libraries, it’s THE place to ask anything and find out about everything.
- Liz Lee joined the Friends board in June 2020. She is an interdisciplinary researcher. She works on all kinds of projects. Talk to Liz about fundraising and events with Friends. Liz loves the library because it is her playground, where she studies, learns and grows.
- Melissa Lee joined the Friends Board in June 2020. She is an executive assistant and policy analyst at a nonprofit
social services agency. She has a background in Human Geography and International Relations, and comes with
experience in the non-profit sector, working with diverse communities, volunteer management, events, writing
and research. She finds self-expression through outlets of film photography, drawing/painting, and her electric guitar. Talk to Melissa about volunteering, fundraising, book sales and events! Melissa is inspired by the library’s ability to foster community building, civic education and exchange. It is a place that nurtures all of us individually and collectively and she is excited to learn how she can support.
- Shirley Tan To Shirley, the VPL has been an invaluable resource, a safe haven and her personal happy place ever since moving to Vancouver in 2010. As a way of giving back, Shirley has been volunteering for Friends of the VPL since 2014. Most of the time, you will find her out on the floor during the used book sales. She has since then expanded her volunteer role to also help manage book sale-related marketing, coordinating the advertising and promotional requirements needed throughout the year for the book sales and book collection periods. Not at all surprising since Shirley has worked various communications roles over the years. Presently, she works as a marketing advisor in an insurance company. Shirley also considers herself an expert bookshelf assembler — the result of having an extensive book collection, a significant portion of it from the Friends of the VPL book sales.