You know Canberra is beginning to return to a sense of normal life after COVID-19 when the Lifeline Bookfair returns for four days from today (25 March) until Sunday, 28 March.
Thoroughbred Park racecourse in Lyneham being used to house rows of boxes in readiness for the Bookfair.
For an organisation that has been at the frontline of helping people deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the return of the beloved Bookfair is a positive step forward for one of Lifeline’s long-serving volunteers, Francine Lee Koo.
Francine has been part of the Bookfair team for “about 10 years, I reckon” but has always been going to the event she calls “a bit of an institution in Canberra”.
“It just feels right to have the Bookfair back in front of people again,” she tells Region Media. “It’s just not the same sending the books to the shop [Book Lovers Lane] at Fyshwick.”
Francine is one of about 430 volunteers who put the Bookfair together, including more than 100 people who have been working 24 hours a day packing boxes of books, games, puzzles, LEGO, records, DVDs, CDs and much more for the past four months.
The Canberra community has also risen to the challenge of finding ways of making sure the Bookfair is ready after the torrential rain of the past week saw more than 125 pallets of books delivered by three semitrailers from Tony Innaimo Transport.
Sorting through the items has been Francine’s domain in the Lifeline warehouse, where she has come across everything from handwritten postcards from Germany before World War I to first-release stamps.
The Bookfair’s special collectors’ room is also back for the first time since 2020, with a number of valuable pieces on offer.
“You never really know what you’re going to find, and quite often we’ll be sorting through things that have been donated without realising the history or the value of the item,” she says.
You will find lots of volunteers in yellow or orange vests at the Bookfair, including Francine, who are only too happy to help people find exactly what they’re looking for.
“You’ll often see people with a lost look on their face, trying to find a book on birds,” says Francine. “We know where everything is so just come and ask us.”
Organisers were able to hold a scaled-down Bookfair in Tuggeranong in December 2020, however Lifeline CEO Carrie Leeson says the organisation is delighted to be registered as a COVID-19-safe event to make this Bookfair better than ever.
“Lifeline Canberra is taking the lead in reimagining community connection, and we are taking every opportunity to safely engage with the community and have them engage with one another,” she says.
The Bookfair will be held in accordance with ACT Health regulations, using the Check-In CBR app. People without a smartphone will still be able to check-in manually.
The Lifeline Bookfair is open from 9 am to 4 pm on Thursday, 25 March, Saturday, 27 March, and Sunday, 28 March, and from 9 am to 6 pm on Friday, 26 March, at Thoroughbred Park on Randwick Road.
The canteen will be operating at the venue and the coffee nook is available from 8 am to 2 pm.
Public parking is available at Thoroughbred Park from 8:30 am.
Entry is by gold coin donation (or via payWave) with all proceeds of every book purchased going directly to Lifeline Canberra’s 13 11 14 crisis support and suicide prevention service.
Book donations can be made at the Bookfair upon arrival, however people with more than one bag or box should drop them directly to the warehouse at 40 Heffernan Street in Mitchell.