Tuesday, 27 May 2014

9,512! No Way!!!

Hello Readers

As I sit here now, still in my pyjamas at midday and home from school...because apparently limited sleep, stress over organising the logistics of a book drive and a total of 24hrs of lugging heavy boxes around a storeroom over 3 days...is not the formula to a healthy immune system; all I can notice is the absence of books in this room.

Maybe its because I have spent the past few days in a warehouse with thousands upon thousands of them and haven't been able to look in a direction without a book in it for days, or maybe its because I am a nerd, and the first thing I notice upon entry into any room is whether or not there are books in it.

It is with great pride, that I can now announce, that thanks to the support of our amazing members who rallied their friends and families together to donate books, to schools such as Barker College and Cronulla High School, to the people that drove all the way to Turramurra to drop off their books from Strathfield, Newcastle, Coogee, to Ruth at Kids Giving Back and the attendees of Cook for Good, to Booktopia and their generous contribution, and finally, to our members - who all went above and beyond expectations in spending hours of their own time selling, sorting and boxing books day after day without complaint...that we have not only reached our goal of 2,000 books...but raised 7,512 more.

Mischief Managed to our first campaign, and an amazing effort from all :)

Due to the sheer amount of things that have been happening in relation to Accio Books since day 1, it has been difficult to write a blog post talking about any one thing...because there are simply so many things to say...and very little time to say them in. So now, I will attempt to piece together all the amazing experiences that have culminated in our final count of over 9,000 books.

As a relatively new chapter beginning our first campaign, our sights were not originally too high. We had discussed in awe the amazing achievement of Edmonton Potterwatch last year in collecting 7,000 books but knew that realistically we could not expect that much. Still, not wanting to be un-ambitious we decided on a 2,000 book goal, still believing we would be lucky to reach that amount. How wrong we were.

We allowed ourselves a month to collect books - and stored them all in our downstairs room as they came in. What started as a small pile soon grew - with our first major donation form Barker College giving us over 1000 books. After putting flyers in the letterboxes of people on our street, we received many donations turning up mysteriously on our front porch. Everything from Disney to fact books about snakes - we received books with titles so strange they made you wonder about the author. It was an amazing feeling to be able to walk down stairs and see that many books at once - no feeling compares.

After the allotted month of collections had transpired, we found ourselves with around 3,500 books in the downstairs of our house. Next step...was sorting them. Harry Potter style, we organised a sorting ceremony and 14 members spent the entire day at our house sorting books, packing them in boxes, labelling each box with its genre and the amount of books inside it, before hauling it upstairs for the courier.

As our members arrived, they brought with them another 1000 books to be sorted: special mention to Liz who came all the way from Coogee with around 400 books (after holding a brilliant collection point in her cupboard), and to Alice who awoke at the crack of dawn to drive and pick her up.

With some clever signage, we sorted the books according to their genre - Zoe was the brains behind some 'interesting' sign designs - with Gilderoy Lockhart featuring on the Non-Fiction sign.

and then it was time to pack...

As true book nerds, we didn't deny ourselves the opportunities to marvel at the most absurd of titles, having a competition to see who could find the weirdest. It was a close tie between Iguana Love and Granny's Purse :)


Exhausted and in need of some entertainment, we settled down to watch the first Harry Potter movie: quoting it the entire way and having long debates as to inaccuracies in the adaptation and our opinions on certain events and characters.

However despite the fact that Accio books was 'officially' over, books kept rolling in. We received a MASSIVE donation from Jennifer in Newcastle who dropped off her books a week later. A local, Ellie dropped off almost a hundred books in near perfect condition, and Laura gave us the largest amount of popular teen fiction we had ever gotten in the same donation.

After another donation of over 400 books from the attendees at Cook for Good, we had reached a total of just over 5,000 books.

This brought us to the event that we had been anticipating for weeks...the HUGE Booktopia Clearance sale that would leave us with our largest donation yet, as well as a significant donation to contribute to The Deluminators' funds for future campaigns.

As a thank you for our members and us working as staff at their clearance sale (wearing our own t-shirts and promoting all the way) - we would receive 10% of the sales, as well as any books that did not sell.

So The Deluminators collectively rolled up their sleeves from 8am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday of last weekend and worked tirelessly without complaint. Unpacking boxes of books, restocking shelves, directing customers. Despite aching feet and sore muscles, we had members coming in both days - and we cannot be thankful enough to all those amazing people.
But of course...it was a book sale - and the ability to spend a weekend surrounded by around 50,000 books could not be passed up. And all our members went home with a selection of their own purchases as expected.

As the flow of customers slowed from a full on tsunami to a gentle ripple, we began to pack up the leftover books into boxes to be collected by the ALNF.

Things had been running smoothly for so long that it was about time we hit a bump. The ALNF informed us that they had too much general fiction and only needed childrens and teenage fiction because their storage facilities were running at full capacity. As far as problems go, this was a great one to have - at least the ALNF had plenty of books to give to remote communities. So we simply changed our plan of attack and only packed up the childrens and teenage fiction left over from Booktopia's sale.

We managed to also get onto another organisation, The Footpath Library - a charity that distributes literature to the homeless around Australia. They were in need of more non-fiction and self-help books - genres that were in huge supply following the warehouse sale.

Though our members had already spent all of their weekend at the warehouse, many dutifully came back on Tuesday afternoon/night for six hours to finish up the packing until 9pm.

Pumped up with Krisby Kreme Donuts, Pizza and music, we made it through the night, and it was with weary sighs that I was greeted upon announcing that we were done. 

And then it was with weary happiness that we were informed that the Footpath Library could accept another 10 boxes of mens fiction - so we hurried down to the warehouse to rescue some more books before they were moved back into storage or thrown away. Having some fun as we packed and labelled, leaving the books in a secure state for the courier the following week.

Though I miss being in a room so full of books that it is possible to lose sight of all the other people in it despite there being about a hundred. I am glad that we have achieved what we set out to do, supplying those within Australia without the access to literature that we take for granted. As I stood in that warehouse, surrounded by thousands of books - all i could think of was Liesel from the book thief, and how much she would have given to see so many books - hopefully we have given the Liesel's within Australia a chance similar to that which she got upon entering the Mayor's house.

On a final note, this week in Australia is known as reconciliation week. The anniversary of the week in which the 1967 referendum was passed, allowing Aboriginal people to finally be counted in the census, the Mabo Case, one of the first successful fights for land rights in Australia's history, and also a time of year that we remember the national apology promise made by Kevin Rudd in 2008. This is a week where people around the continent are encouraged to consider the vast indigenous population within Australia - and the wrongs that were done in our past. It is a chance to right old wrongs and seek a better future. What a fitting time in which to donate 6,899 of the books we collected, to reducing the education gap in Australia through the ALNF's 'Share a Book Endeavor'. I encourage you all to consider the implications of reconciliation this week and help our beautiful country move toward this better future.

Mischief managed guys. Congratulations to all who were involved.



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