Thrilling Finds for NCACL

Thrilling Finds for NCACL
By Angela Brown

Lifeline volunteer, Angela Brown

I’ve been a Lifeline Canberra Bookfair volunteer since 2007 and a NCACL ‘spotter’ since 2010.  I’m responsible for preparing Australian children’s picture books and Australian children’s vintage books, some of which can be quite rare and valuable. As I work through thousands of books every year, I pick out books that I think NCACL may not hold.  I search the NCACL catalogue and sometimes the lists of donations published in the Centre’s Annual Reports.

Generally, I find 600-700 books per year for the Centre’s collection. One year I topped 800 books. This involves thousands of catalogue searches to find items not held. All books found are then listed on a database. I extract bibliographic listings and deliver approximately 200 of these books to the Centre every 3-4 months.  Since I began, I’ve found more than 8,000 books for NCACL.

The Centre pays Lifeline for the books and particularly expensive books are often purchased by dedicated Centre volunteers. Research is often needed for rarer items to determine their value and work out a price.

NCACL 2023 sort of titles received.

Some titles are from mainstream publishers, many from small or self-publishers, and some are overseas editions of Australian authors.  If I’m uncertain whether the author/illustrator is Australian, then I do some internet searching.

As a retired librarian and previously a primary school teacher-librarian, I love working with books and particularly with children’s books.  I experience a particular thrill when I find something rare for the Centre.

Some of the thrilling titles I’ve found are:

  • Australians all : land and sea folk in rhyme / by Nelle Grant Cooper; illustrated by Dorothy Wall and Phyllis Shillito. Published in 1939.
  • Little Ragged Blossom, and more about Snugglepot & Cuddlepie / by May Gibbs. Published in 1937.
  • Scotty in Gumnut Land / by May Gibbs. Published in 1941.
  • Princess Herminie and the Tapestry Prince and Other Stories / by Lee Ivatt. Published in 1922.
  • The White Butterfly and Other Fairy Tales / by Ethel Jackson Morris. Published in 1921.
  • Blinky Bill, the quaint little Australian / by Dorothy Wall. Published in 1937.

Little Ragged Blossom published in 1937.

Princess Herminie published in 1922.

Every time I start searching the NCACL catalogue to see if some of my latest possibilities are held, I feel excited at the prospect of what I might uncover.  It’s a fascinating way to spend time every week and such a worthwhile job to be doing.


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