Book lovers should gallop over to the Armidale race course this weekend.
Armidale Central Rotary Club is holding its second book fair of the year – a special, one-off event.
“It’s been forced on us by the kindness of the Armidale people,” organiser Ian Garske said.
“The donations have flooded in; we can’t fit all the books in our own shed; and we can’t fit them in the race course for our May sale, either!”
This book fair will be a quarter the size of the earlier event, with 12 to 15,000 books for sale (some 600 boxes).
This includes 300 boxes of novels, 30 boxes of cooking, a lot of military history and Australian history, a large cooking section, and plenty of magazines.
“There are a lot of beautiful books that are like brand new,” Mr Garske said. “People trying to pick up books for gifts, or for kids, can do it on the cheap.”
Thousand-piece jigsaw puzzles – only used once – are selling two for $48.
Carriers move the boxes out of the Bookshed in Dumaresq Street on Wednesday afternoon.
The Rotary volunteers start to put the books out on Thursday, and work hard setting the fair up until Friday night.
“We’ll hope we have enough time!” Mr Garske joked.
Five hundred boxes of books were left over after the May sale; and more have come in over the last six months. Rotary volunteers receive up to a thousand books a week.
“They quieten down in winter,” Mr Garske said, “but the moment spring or summer arrives, people start to clean out.
“You get a consistent lot of deceased estates; the family arrive from Melbourne to clean out Mum’s house, and they need somewhere to donate the books. We often get a utility load out of one house!”
Readers will find every category except the rare books.
Collectors must wait until May to obtain first edition James Bond novels, or the complete Oxford English Dictionary, microprinted in two volumes.
All for a good cause
The May book fair is Rotary Central's biggest fundraiser, and the club hopes this event will raise $15,000.
Some money will provide the Yazidi families in town with gardening tools.
“They’ve been farmers," Mr Garske said, “and they’re turning their backyards into nice little vegetable plots.”
The club has provided them with some bikes for transport, and held a big barbecue day for the Yazidi community last month.
The May sale raised $65,000. The club distributed $11,000 to help small schools around the region struggling with drought.
Also locally, they’ve refurbished Armidale Community Preschool with playground and sporting equipment; supported a new Legacy bus; provided youth programs, art and science scholarships, and run breakfast programs at Newling School; and helped Meals on Wheels repaint their kitchen and buy a new freezer.
Overseas, their Project Dignity provides sanitary products to schoolgirls in South Africa to help them get a complete education. Without sanitary products, most girls would lose a week a month from school. Rotary has been doing this project for five or six years in conjunction with a South African online Rotary branch; figures show school attendance for girls has improved.
Armidale Rotary members also went to Papua New Guinea in July to work on the Kokoda Memorial Hospital.
The hospital was built in the ‘90s when then-Prime Minister Paul Keating decided the “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels” needed some support for a hospital; Rotary built it, and has maintained it ever since. Over the last 25 years, three or four groups from Armidale have gone to work on the hospital.
This year, the group completed a building made of two containers. (Building is hard in the tropics; white ants tend to eat wooden structures.)
In conjunction with the Rotary Club of Inverell, the Armidale organisation also sent packets of books, bikes, and money to buy materials on site.
They also provide water tanks in Myanmar, tents and water purifiers for disaster areas, and chemical-coated mosquito nets against malaria.