The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) was founded by bookseller and academic, Suzy Wilson, more than eleven years ago. After visiting remote Australia in 2004, she rallied the Australian Book Industry to support her vision to supply new, quality books and learning resources to children living in isolated regions; where books are few and access to books is limited.
The response was positive and over the years, the momentum grew. Today the charity is forever grateful to the many booksellers who continue to support ILF with promotions, donations and events.
We’ve reached out to just four booksellers across the country to learn why and how they support the Foundation.
Matilda Bookshop - Adelaide
Matilda Bookshop, is an independent bookstore nestled in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. Store co-owner, Gavin Wiliams, is not only a supporter, he’s recently joined the ILF board as a volunteer Director.
“We know how lucky we are in our part of Australia, on Peramangk land, to have access to books and all that they contain; new worlds, information, inspiration and ideas. However this realisation comes with the understanding of our privilege, and that not everyone in Australia, particularly in remote regions, has the opportunity to access the breadth of human experience that can be found within the pages of a bookshop's books”.
Matilda Bookshop supports the ILF through electronic donation points and cash tins at the bookstores front counter which according to Gavin has a universally positive response. Matilda Bookshop also donates 15% of their turnover to the ILF on Love Your Bookshop Day.
“No one ever says no, or that they don't support the organisation's goals. It's lovely.” he said.
In addition, there is a priority for educating staff about the ILF and its work so that staff in turn can inform customers.
“We are very lucky that everyone who works here shares these goals”, claimed Gavin.
Potts Point Bookshop - Sydney
Potts Point Bookshop, is another independent bookshop located in the Paris end of Potts Point. Owner, Anna Low, has been a long term supporter of ILF and until last year, was a valuable Board Director and Secretary.
“I have been a long term supporter of the ILF both personally and through the bookshop because I truly believe in the work that the organisation does. Watching the organisation evolve over the years from initially supplying books to Communities to now also producing books in language has been very inspiring.”
Potts Point Bookshop promotes the ILF through their e-newsletter and social media around Indigenous Literacy Day (ILD) and the festive season. The bookstore also stocks some of ILF’s commercially available books such as No Way Yirrikipayi and encourages staff to have conversations with customers about the work of the Foundation. In exchange for gift wrapping, they request customers donate a gold coin or tap the donation point machine.
“Customers often say, ‘This is really important and I am happy to support it’. There are varying levels of awareness about the ILF’s work, but this often provides an opportunity for further discussion,” claims Anna.
Readings - Melbourne
Readings, another independent retailer of books and owner Mark Rubbo, has recently celebrated the opening of his seventh outlet in Emporium Melbourne.
Mark has recently retired from a long stint as a volunteer ILF Board member, but his passion for the Foundation is unwavering.
“We believe the work that the ILF does is so valuable, not just because of its impact on the lives of young Australians in remote Communities but also because of its connection with the publishing industry. It makes me and my staff very proud to be able to support the ILF”.
When possible, Readings will link the sale of a book to an ILF fundraiser.
“It’s a great way of getting the message out and raising some money and our customers respond really well,” shares Mark.
In addition to building awareness of ILF in their e-newsletter, across social media and monthly magazine, Readings also donate 10% of their sales to the ILF on the Foundation’s annual day of advocacy, Indigenous Literacy Day. They also have a donation point machine at their Carlton store and continue to explore new ways to fundraise for the Foundation.
Avid Reader - Queensland
Avid Reader is an independent book shop in Queensland. Operating on the lands of the Turrbal and Jagera Peoples of Meanjin, co-owner, Fiona Stager is a firm supporter of the work of the ILF and has a number of systems in place to encourage customers to learn more about the Foundation and donate.
The store runs gift wrapping promotions around Fathers Day, Mothers Day and the festive season and promotes ILF in their newsletters and social media. Their kids bookstore, Where the Wild Things Are, has a large selection of Indigenous stories including ILF commercial titles: Karrkin, I Saw, We Saw, No Way Yirrikipayi!, Hello Hello and Can you Dance?
Fiona from Avid Reader believes that while “99% of customers are happy to donate” she believes “we still have a long way to go”.
We extend a big thank you to all the booksellers across the country who are sharing the work of the ILF and encouraging customers to donate. Every $10 puts a book into the hands of a child in remote Australia and we know reading opens doors to more opportunities and choices.
This year kick starts UNESCO’s Decade of Indigenous Languages, and the ILF is proud to be supporting more remote Communities to write and publish their own stories, in First Languages. For more information visit Community Publishing Projects | Indigenous Literacy Foundation.