17 April 2001

Are you lusting for a copy of Mrs Beeton's cookbook, The Thoughts of Chairman Mao, or needing a comprehensive encyclopaedia of the military weapons of the 20th century?

Perhaps the Greyhound Stud Book might be more your speed, or a good Robert Ludlum novel, or An Account of the Foxglove and some of its Medical uses with Practical Remarks on Dropsy and Other Diseases.

The Alumni Association of The University of Queensland Inc. believes it has most reading tastes covered among the 100,000 items it will offer for sale next month.

The Association will hold its 12th biennial book fair at Mayne Hall, St Lucia from April 21 to 26, daily from 11am to 6pm, except April 25 (noon to 6pm). The fair has a special opening April 22 from 10am exclusively for disabled clients and carers.

Book fair convenor Bev Walker said the eclectic list of items ranged from near-new to very old books and art prints to magazines, jigsaws, games, sheet music, records and CDs.

"Unlike other book sales, the Alumni Association's book fair is supervised by people who know about books and care about books. They are knowledgeable about their specialty areas and enjoy the thrill of discovering something unusual, then finding a good home for that item," she said.

"There's nothing more exciting for them than seeing the expression on someone's face when they locate a special treasure at the book fair.

"We have an army of about 45 regular volunteers who have spent the past two years preparing for this book fair, sorting and processing items which are generously donated to us by the University Library, University departments, estates and private collections."

Ms Walker said volunteers were from all walks of life, often retired or semi-retired people, with a common love of reading and a goal to assist The University of Queensland to support worthy projects for which funding was not always available.

"Volunteers donate thousands of hours of time to help the University. They also enjoy getting together weekly and the hard work they put in often provides a focus to their week," she said.

Ms Walker said volunteers specialised in particular areas, for example, children's books, science fiction, or natural history or Australiana, and followed every stage from sorting to eventual sales at the fair, so they could assist buyers with queries. Specialty areas will be clearly marked at the fair. There will be a special section for books over 100 years, and another, for books over 150 years. A new section this year will focus on Welsh and Celtic history.

This year's fair includes items from the estates of the late UQ Professor of German Keith Leopold, Griffith University Chancellor and Courier Mail editor Sir Theodor Bray, and actress Babette Stephens. The book fair will be preceded by a rare book auction of about 150 items on April 20 at 6.30pm in the Mayne Hall foyer (viewing from 4pm to 6pm).

Association members are hoping to top their 1999 record raising effort of $140,000 to support initiatives such as the UQ Excellence in Teaching Awards, the Great Court Race, SunShark, the UQ Alumnus and Graduate of the Year, sporting scholarships, students with disabilities, and the University's Debating Society.

Media: Further information, Book Fair convenor Bev Walker, telephone 07 3365 2263 or Alumni executive officer Ms Lynne Norris telephone 3365 1561 or Jan King at UQ Communications 3365 1120 or email: communications@mailbox.uq.edu.au