Posted by Ken Hall on May 31, 2019
From memory I think it was about 14 years ago that the Rotary Club of Albert Park had their first Book Fair at Albert Park Primary School.  The sale was an outstanding result which cemented the Book Fair as an annual event on our calendar.  Each year since we have raised in excess of $20,000 from the sale of books generously donated to us, and if my arithmetic is any good the sum raised is now in excess of $250,000.
Money raised from books are from sales on our ABE book site, Gasworks monthly market, books sold to the Merchant of Fairness at the South Melbourne market, local primary schools and a number of other sources.
Apart from the scholarships given to local students moving on to higher education we have donated $5,000 - $6,000 yearly to Star Health to help those less fortunate in our community.  It may be just buying a pair of shoes or a mattress for someone who has been sleeping on the floor, or a computer, television or something else badly needed that may help to change or enable a person to have a better life.  It is sometimes these little things that make such a huge difference to a person's life.
The Albert Park College also receives 25% of all sales for enabling us to share the space in the college where we sort donated books.  Without this area I doubt if we would be able to continue with our work.  The College has also received books for all their libraries at Danks Street, Pickles Street and Bay Street which if calculated in money terms would be in excess of $100,000.
It is not what we just do with the money raised it is also what happens with other books that we distribute to a number of organisations.  
We have a dedicated team of workers, two of whom are formerly Rotarians (Greig Mc Ewan who lists saleable books on ABE web site, giving up hours of his time weekly, and Jenny Grebler who assists in sorting and separating the good books from the bad), Helen who sits glued to the computer at the college checking books on the ABE and other sites seeking out the treasure that some one has unknowingly  discarded and there has been many found over the years, Carol who works long hours delivering books to the Little Book Shop at Melbourne Central, the NGV at Federation Square and Australian books to Station Pier for incoming tourists, and also those who regularly pick up books from our drop-off points.  Carol also donates books to the Warrnambool hospital.  
Books are freely given to Discovery College on self help which in turn helps people with mental health issues.  They also run courses on suicide prevention and many other courses.  Thousands of children's books and those for younger readers have been given to a group called Reading out of Poverty, and primary schools for disadvantaged children.
My belief is put a book in a child's hand and their world will become a little brighter and their capacity for learning opens up.
Again 1,000s of books were sent to Vanuatu and we are collecting younger reader books at the moment to ship across.  
Albert Park Primary School and the Rotary Club of Carlton have also received books for their annual book fairs.  Books have also been donated to a number of high rise units and nursing homes in our area, and next week we deliver an order of books for $3,500 to a new retirement facility in Albert Road called The Grace; the list of what we do with the books given to us never seems to stop.
The Book Fair on the 22nd of June this year needs the support of members in distributing information and setting up and helping on the day and we will be seeking volunteers to work on Saturday from 8am-5pm handing out leaflets in Bridport Street and Bay Street.
All good stories have to have an ending and in our case we lost one of the mainstays of our group when Jill Rymill (another non Rotarian) passed away last year.  In all honesty without Jill's knowledge which she passed on to Jenny and myself, my love for books would have diminished.  Jill taught me how to seek that hidden treasure.  What to look for is what identifies one book from another, authors, publishers - all of these small things which in turn create a knowledge which Jill instilled in me, and she is sadly missed.  Jill also left a huge collection of her books to Rotary and I also recently received a cheque from her sister in Adelaide for $3,000 for the sale of books that Jill bequeathed to Rotary.
In conjunction with the principal of Albert Park College it is intended to award two scholarships yearly from Rotary for $500 each to students who have shown outstanding results in the liberal arts and this will be awarded at the Lit Fest yearly.  I feel this is the enduring and fitting thing to do to honour Jill's unselfish contribution to Rotary.  It is impossible to place a value on what Jill passed on to me and many others with her commitment to books and our club.
Well that is it.  All stories have to end but hopefully ours will continue for years
Ken Hall