15 Feb 2012
News is coming in from across Australia, of city, state and federal governments joining BookCrossing.com as part of their participation in the “National Year of Reading“. This excellent scheme, initiated by Australian libraries, is bringing together libraries, readers, governments, booksellers, schools, writers, the media, and now BookCrossing.com! The objective is to raise the profile of reading, as the website notes, “Nearly half of Australians can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.” I read newspapers avidly, but yeah, I can identify with the rest.
First item to hit my radar was this item from Parramatta in Western Sydney:
As part of National Year of Reading 2012, Parramatta City Library has joined BookCrossing, a free world-wide initiative where books are donated and shared by members of the community, registered with a unique number at participating libraries and released into the world for anyone to find.
“Once the book is found it is hoped that person will log in to the website www.bookcrossing.com and register the book so that it can be tracked by the original owner and anyone else who reads it,” Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Cr Lorraine Wearne, said.
—Street Corner, Western Sydney
Lord Mayor Lorraine, who may or may not be clad as a racing car driver in the accompanying photograph, also notes that she will release one of her favourite books.
The city of Parramatta, unlikely to be submerged by the global sea rises predicted in the book, is a small fish when compared to the island state of Tasmania, which has apparently joined up en masse as a state government initiative.
BookCrossing Tasmania is about promoting reading to a wide audience in unexpected places, while at the same time supporting Tasmanian writers and their works. It will see over 200 donated books registered on the BookCrossing website. They will all be left in a public place with an invitation to passers-by to pick up, read and share. This is a very exciting initiative which targets adults of all reading abilities and its key message is that ‘reading is for everyone, anywhere’.
Metro buses are one of several Official BookCrossing Zones, and so I was delighted to send off the first book on a departing bus today, to be enjoyed and passed around amongst commuters.
—Nick McKirn, Minister for Education and Skills
The books released in Tasmania feature local authors and themes, and so far three of the hundred “in the wild” have been found. Several, including copies of The World Beneath, are still riding the buses after being released at the Metro Springfield bus interchange.
I’m looking for more similar initiatives, but I’ve got to say that when government officials start releasing books on buses, like any keen BookCrosser, then government is not quite so boring as it is cracked up to be!