Nearly 20,000 bookworms and bibliophiles descended on EPIC over the weekend for the first Lifeline Bookfair of the decade.
Across the three days, Canberrans trawled through more than 11,000 boxes of books, magazines, sheet music, comics, maps, records, games and jigsaw puzzles to help raise money for Lifeline, with all proceeds going towards the Local Crisis Support Service which is available 24/7 on 13 11 14.
Naively, I went after work on Friday afternoon looking to get some quick photos and interviews for social media, and perhaps browse a couple of titles. Half-an-hour tops, I thought. After all, most book fairs just put up old stock and textbooks from the 1980s.
I could not have been more wrong.
Suddenly I remembered my plans to become a political analyst, an economist, a linguist, a psychologist, a mechanic, a cartoonist, an artist and a speechwriter. All at once.
How could I possibly conduct political interviews like Leigh Sales or Patricia Karvelas without Legal Interviewing: Theory, Tactics, and Techniques?
How was I ever going to be on top of my game without three different recounts of the press gallery from veteran Laurie Oakes?
How would it be possible to be a future foreign correspondent without knowing Italian, Spanish, German, French, Arabic and a little bit of Urdu for flavour?
And so all these books and then some made their way into the scruffy tote bag that moments before only held my camera.
“Ah well, it looks like I will just have to come back tomorrow morning to get the rest of my photos for the story,” I told myself, feigning annoyance.
Round 2 on Saturday turned out to be even more hectic. The term ‘organised chaos’ came to mind, but everyone seemed to have their own flow and rhythm that ensured no one was trampled or missed out.
Doors are open at @EPICCanberra! How quickly time goes, and just like that it’s time for another EPIC February Bookfair ?? we’re very grateful for the continued support we receive from the Canberra community pic.twitter.com/XlNoPDSSlE
— Lifeline Canberra (@Lifeline_ACT) February 6, 2020
As I browsed, I noticed that every section was full of its own tropes, from video games to arts and crafts to ecology, but every section was also full of serendipity. There were grandmas looking for rock vinyl, gym junkies looking at retro croqueting books and suits delving through fantasy novella.
One family I spoke to had been coming to the fair every year since they moved to Canberra in 2008. They came with a practical ethos: “Every year we return the books we got last year so they can be re-used. We believe that we should only take as much as we give.”
Young and old, veterans and newbies alike braved the weekend rains and were using anything they could to carry books back to their car.
Kids were made to walk so prams could accommodate books and vinyl, suitcases were repurposed into portable libraries and small trolleys accompanied the best-prepared bibliophiles.
And it is for this reason, the generosity and dedication of Canberrans, that Lifeline has the capacity to keep up its Local Crisis Support Service.
“It was so wonderful to see so many Canberrans out at EPIC over the weekend, it has been a very traumatic start to 2020 for many in the region, but events like this show the community support within Canberra and we unite as one for those in need,” a Lifeline spokesperson told Region Media.
“It costs $10,000 to train a new Telephone Crisis Support Volunteers and it costs $26 to answer a life-changing call – so a handful of books can change someone’s life.
“We cannot thank the Canberra community enough for their continued support.”
The next Lifeline Bookfair will be held at the Tuggeranong Southern Cross Stadium in July. More information about Lifeline Canberra’s services, including how you can get involved, is available at www.act.lifeline.org.au.
Bushfire support services, including resources to support children, and information on coping with grief and loss, are also available.