Lifeline sorters hard at work
The Lu Rees Archives (www.canberra.edu.au/lurees) is one of the nation's most comprehensive collections of Australian children's literature. We try to collect a copy of every edition, reprint and translation of every children's book published in Australia or written or illustrated by an Australian. No other organisation is doing this, and without the work of the Archives, this important part of our literary heritage would be lost.
We own more than 25,000 books that we make available to researchers, teachers, librarians, students and the community. Our post-1960 collection is equal to that of the National Library and some State Libraries, and includes 1,376 books that are not held by any other library in Australia.
To be truly comprehensive, we collect books by "˜popular' authors including Mary Poppins' adventures by Pamela Travers, Paul White's African missionary tales, Shirley Barber's fairy stories and Michael Salmon's monster books. Without titles such as these, no record of Australian children's literature is complete "“ and many other libraries do not include them.
These books sit alongside some of our best-loved classics by authors such as Ethel Turner, Mary Grant Bruce, Patricia Wrightson, Colin Thiele, Joan Phipson and Ivan Southall. We also include modern authors and have the largest collection anywhere in the world of works by Emily Rodda and Gillian Rubinstein.
Our biggest challenge is finding older titles. We post "˜Wish Lists' on our website, and these have helped fill the gaps in the works of Colin Thiele and Patricia Wrightson, for example. The Colin Thiele Wish List has been running for 12 years and we still receive donations of editions that the Archives doesn't have.
The Canberra Lifeline Book Fair is by far the best source for finding books we don't have by both "˜popular' and "˜classic' authors, including many American and British editions. A volunteer Lifeline "˜spotter' checks our Wish Lists as well as our online catalogue, searches among the donated books for editions that we don't have and four or five times a year brings the ones she has found.
However, because we don't have the funds, we have to keep the upper limit for each book to $10. No telling what we might be missing! That $12 book might be just the one we don't have!
Earlier finds from the Lifeline Book Fair.
The Archives is a non-profit organisation. Our accommodation is supported by the University of Canberra, and our part-time staffing by The Children's Book Council of Australia, but all other income must come from donations.
We need $2500 each year to purchase the titles available at the Canberra Lifeline Book Fairs, even when we set a limit of $10 a copy. Please become a personal supporter and help us keep our collection growing by donating to our Lifeline fund.
You can also support the Archives by following us on Twitter so that you stay up to date on our coming events and new additions to our collection.
You are most welcome to make arrangements to visit us the next time you are in Canberra. We also answer questions about Australian children's literature by mail and email.
Thank you for any support you can provide. We look forward to letting you know how you have helped our collection grow, and how you have contributed to preserving Australia's children's literature heritage.
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