COVID can’t keep an iconic event down for long. Books are being sorted and the tables are being set for this year’s biennial Lifeline South Coast Big Book Fair in Berkeley. More than 83,000 books will be for sale this weekend and all proceeds will flow to Lifeline’s suicide prevention services.

The event is in its 27th year and is volunteer-run.

“We can’t do it without our volunteers we have about 100 volunteers for this book fair,” Lifeline Big Book Fair coordinator Alicia Ferderer said.

Ms Ferderer said the event is the result of many weeks of preparation.

“We are packing books every week of the year, we have a team of about 50 volunteers who work sorting, pricing and packing books and that’s located at Unanderra,” she said.

Ms Ferderer said the event would be delivered under COVID-safe conditions. Last year’s March event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“We have the Service NSW app for people to check in on entry…we will also have sanitiser at the doors as well social distancing which will be regulated by certain staff,” Ms Ferderer said.

The Big Book Fair is an important fundraising event for Lifeline’s local services.

“We have increased our support of the South Coast after the bushfires, we had our financial counsellors do sessions helping people …. we do training up and down the coast and we also do 13 11 14 crisis support service which is our main focus for this event,” Ms Ferderer said.

It costs Lifeline $25 to answer one call on its crisis support hotline.

“The event is one of the biggest fundraisers for the local Lifeline service,” book fair volunteer Patricia said.

Ms Ferderer said this weekend’s book fair would have something for everyone, including a special interest book section, listed on Lifeline’s website.

“We have some skilled volunteers that have a strong interest in special collectable books, every book is looked at and if there are any rare books we get them looked at further and they go onto a list on our website,” Ms Ferderer said.

Donations to the event can be made at locations across the Illawarra, and include Lifeline offices, Wollongong City Libraries, the Unanderra sorting facility and the customer service desk at Wollongong Central.

The book fair doors open 9am Friday, 19 March, at Illawarra Sports Stadium in Berkeley.

If you or someone you know is in need of support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.


What does the Big Book Fair do for Lifeline by Serena Sorrentino