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Bookfair a lifeline to all bookworms

Michael Weaver 13 September 2019

At the Lifeline Bookfair are, from left, volunteers Darcy Di-Donna and Chloe Mann, with Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson and treasurer Arran Curll. Photo: Michael Weaver

What began 47 years ago as a couple of Lifeline volunteers in a garage selling books to raise money for the charity has well and truly turned a page.

By midday today (Friday, 13 September), more than 4000 people had already passed through the gates at Exhibition Park in Canberra for the Lifeline Bookfair.

“The beauty of the Bookfair is that we’ve had people who have found that one book that they may have spent 20 years looking for,” said Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson, who told Region Media they are expecting the record numbers to continue over the three days.

“There’s a story like that at every Bookfair.”

The event is so big, it is now close to out-growing its current home where record numbers lined up to get first glimpses of the 250,000+ items for sale.

“We had 25,000 people here last year, so we’re probably looking at close to 30,000 this weekend,” Ms Leeson said.

With every single book donated by the community, Carrie said processing and sorting takes much of the volunteers’ time to ensure the book finds a place in the catalogued sections of the Bookfair.

“All the funds that we raise off the back of these generous donations go straight to crisis support in Canberra.

“It takes about $26 to answer one life-changing call, which incorporates all of the training, supervision and support, but that very neatly equates to a handful of books, so you can walk away with a pile of books and you’ve done a really wonderful thing for the community.”

There are about 800 volunteers who work with Lifeline Canberra, with 230 scheduled on at this weekend’s bookfair.

The volunteers help people find the exact book they want, but most people know where to go by using the map which shows each section, be it politics, sport or a rare comic or vinyl record.

“The volunteers know exactly where to go and they will help you find what you’re looking for, and we’ve still got hundreds of volunteers back at the warehouse sorting the donations that come in,” Ms Leeson said.

“We’ve also got another few hundred people on the crisis support line, so there’s more than 70 per cent of our volunteers doing something for the community this weekend.”

Lifeline Canberra Bookfair

Volunteers at this weekend’s Lifeline Bookfair, from left, Malcolm Mullavey, Rob Lee and Finn McHugh. Photo: Michael Weaver

This year, there is also a coin collection, along with the range of fiction and non-fiction books, including rare books and collectables, children’s books, textbooks and foreign language books.

You will even find magazines and pamphlets, sheet music, comics, maps and atlases, talking books, records and CDs, DVDs, games and jigsaws.

Of course, there are always plenty of great page-turners for the eagar bookworms who are searching for the one book to add to their collection.

The Lifeline Bookfair starts today (13 September) and runs until Sunday at Exhibition Park. Opening hours are 9 am to 6 pm today, 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday and from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday.

Saturday is a family day with fun activities for the kids.

The bookfair is the largest gathering of book lovers in Canberra and raises a major portion of the funding needed to keep the crisis support and suicide prevention service available to the community.

Entry is by gold coin donation. You can pay for your purchases with cash, credit card (Mastercard or Visa) or EFTPOS.

Parking is free.

Further details about the Lifeline bookfair are on their website.


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