6 February 2024

Thousands of books make the journey to Lifeline's first book fair of 2024

| Ryan Bourke
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books on display at bookstall

Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Ann Leeson says Canberra’s cherished Bookfair would not be possible without the efforts of the volunteers – all 320 of them. Photo: Lifeline Canberra.

Right now, thousands of books lie forgotten on their owners’ shelves.

Whether it’s the first edition copy of The Da Vinci Code you were duped into buying or the paperback copy of To Kill a Mockingbird you had to buy for year 10 English, we all have them stored regretfully at home.

For me, it’s a dusty copy of The Catcher in the Rye my uncle gave me six years ago.

After unsuccessfully trying to finish it three times, I’ve come to accept it’s just not my cup of tea.

But while I struggled to get behind this so-called American classic, it’s clear millions of others, like my uncle, did not.

And so, my dusty and neglected copy really should join the thousands of other second-hand books to find a new lease on life at Lifeline Canberra’s Bookfair this weekend.

READ MORE A special calling: Lifeline volunteers give the gift of hope at the loneliest time of year

Running from 9 to 11 February, Lifeline Canberra’s bookfair gives thrifty bookworms access to a treasure trove of pre-loved literature.

So, what happens to the books you donate to Lifeline?

After dropping them off at Lifeline Canberra’s Mitchell warehouse, your donated book will be categorised, inspected, priced and packed by hand by a team of hundreds of Lifeline volunteers. The whole process takes place over months.

“It really is a lot of work,” Lifeline Canberra’s warehouse manager Laura Eash says.

“Our warehouse operates year-round. We took a week off over Christmas but otherwise have volunteers here six days a week receiving and sorting donations. We’ve been working pretty much non-stop since September in preparation for the fair.”

Two volunteers at the Lifeline wearhouse

Volunteers have been preparing for this weekend’s Bookfair since September last year. Photo: Lifeline Canberra.

In addition to putting on an event encouraging engagement and connection within Canberra’s community, the work of these volunteers has a deeper meaning. The Bookfair raises crucial funds for Lifeline Canberra’s over-the-phone crisis support service, which changes countless lives every year.

For every $26 raised, Lifeline’s service can afford to field an additional call. Statistics like this make clear just how important it is for each and every book to complete its journey successfully. A journey not possible without the hard work and dedication of Lifeline’s selfless volunteers.

Speaking to Region about the fair’s logistics, Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Ann Leeson says the work of Lifeline Canberra’s dedicated volunteers is crucial.

“It’s a cherished and iconic Canberra event and we are so privileged to be the custodians of it,” she explains.

“But, of course, it just would not be possible without all 320 of them.”

Woman on the phone at the Lifeline Crisis Support Phone Rooms

All funds raised will support Lifeline Canberra’s crisis support service. Photo: Lifeline Canberra.

The event will also have face painting and other activities for the little ones in EPIC’s Budawang building on Saturday morning.

This year’s fair will also offer a large variety of comics, magazines and collectable items. Music lovers should also consider dropping by; a large selection of vinyl, CDs and sheet music is also for sale.

READ ALSO Canberra’s getting its first electric truck dealership

This weekend’s Bookfair is one of three annual book fairs put on by Lifeline Canberra. The second will run from 28 to 30 June at Tuggeranong’s Southern Cross Stadium, while a third will see the fair return to EPIC from 27 to 29 September. Entry is by gold coin donation.

Donations can also be made at the book fair’s designated collection point near the entrance. There will also be a drive-through and drop-off station at EPIC’s Fitzroy Pavilion for those seeking to make larger donations.

The Lifeline Canberra EPIC Bookfair is on from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 February at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC), Cnr Northbourne Av & Flemington Rd, Mitchell ACT 2911. For more information visit Canberra Lifeline Bookfair.

Those looking to volunteer with Lifeline Canberra’s book fairs can apply here.


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Stephen Saunders8:10 am 10 Feb 24

You are forgiven, Ryan. “Catcher” is overrated, it just doesn’t stand up very well. From that era, try “A Sport & A Pastime” or “Wise Blood”. Or from the 1990s, “All the Pretty Horses” and “In the Lake of The Woods”. They hold up rather better.

It is still a marvellous event, but the big shrinkage of the “quality fiction” offerings is saddening. Also, do something to police the huge trolleys and bags blocking the aisles and tables. One almost needs shin-pads these days.

It’s still a great event.

ChrisinTurner2:41 pm 06 Feb 24

You should say the location of the Fair.

It says in 3 different paragraphs it’s at EPIC….

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