One for the history books

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The Rotary Club of Invercargill booksale committee chairman Richard Russell (left) and committee member Richard King at the usual book sale venue, Invercargill's Civic Theatre.

FOR the first time in more than 30 years, the Rotary Club of Invercargill Book Sale has been cancelled.

The 100-plus line of people waiting outside Invercargill’s Civic Theatre’s gates will not exist this year, after Covid-19 forced the event’s organisers to can the event.

Rotary book sale committee chairman Richard Russell said the club was “well and truly” through the planning stages of the June event when the lockdown hit in March.

“Without a crystal ball, we had no way of knowing what was going to happen with lockdown.

“There were too many unknowns so we had no option but to cancel this year’s event.”

One of the earliest and most significant roadblocks was not being able to use the service stations as drop-off points for books during various alert levels, he said.

With the Civic Theatre closed and service stations limiting public access, it would have been “near impossible” to collect the donations to sell.

“We looked at other dates, later in the year, but it was just too hard to tell when the best time would be.”

Mr Russell said the committee was disappointed the event would not go ahead.

However, there was not much they could do, except plan for next year.

“It’s not just an opportunity to fundraise for the charity and put that money back into the community. It’s also for people who can’t afford to buy good-quality books from the shop.”

Committee member Richard King said the beauty of the book sale was people could buy cared-for books, some close to new, for a fraction of the price.

“What might cost you $50 for one book, you can get for $5.”

With winter arriving, it was the perfect time of year for people to stock up on their reading collections, he said.

“It’s also just a great opportunity to get the community together, the banter you hear is just great.”

Last year, a milestone was met with more than 400 boxes of recycled books sorted for the big day.

Since the book sale’s inception, it had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for community groups.

Mr King said the important thing was the club still got Southlanders’ support.

“It’s vital for our club to have the funds to put back into the community.

“We’ll just have to come back bigger and better than ever next year.”

Plans for the 2021 book sale were already under way, with a few new ideas being thrown around, he said.

Next year’s event had been pencilled in for June 10-13.

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