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                Essential Print
    To date, the organisation has delivered more than half a million books to communities across Australia. It prioritises remote and isolated towns and communities, which mostly have no other access to reading materials, no public library or bookstore.
This year the ILF’s Book Supply programme is gearing up to supply over 99,000 books, 44% of them featuring Indigenous authors and illustrators. The task has been made easier by a new threeyear sponsorship from Australia Post
to deliver the books from the UBS warehouse in Melbourne. According to Williams it is no small task to make sure the books get to the communities.
“It takes Australia Post ten days to deliver to the Antarctic. To one
of our remote communities it's up
to 15-plus days. All our books are stored in Melbourne. A book might leave Melbourne on a plane to Darwin to get to the Tiwi Islands.
It then goes on a barge to get to Milikapiti, to the school we work with on Melville Island. The barge goes around the island then lands the books on a beach where there’s
a small slipway and a shed. Then
it depends on someone from the community having the time to come and pick up those books and drive them to the school. It’s not like our capital cities, where we take all these things for granted,” she said.
Books deemed suitable for the communities are purchased from local publishers, often the regional subsidiary of major international brands such as Penguin Random House Australia, a major sponsor of ILF. Independent publishers such as the indigenous-owned and operated, Magabala Books in Broome, as
well as Black Inc in Melbourne
and Rockpool Publishing figure prominently. According to Williams, most of the books are purchased while some are donated.
“The publishers give us truly massive discounts. We work closely with the Australian Booksellers Association and invite publishers to submit books that meet our criteria. We survey the communities to
find out the type of books and the quantity they want.
“Members of the committee, many who’ve worked in communities and others who are publishing professionals, know what is suitable and can see where there may be gaps,” said Williams.
The book supply project of the
ILF delivers five different packs. • Books for babies and toddlers; mainly soft books and tough
resilient board books.
• Books for Kids: chiefly picture
• Books for Big Kids: 12 year plus,
books with written chapters
• Books for Community: art, craft,
cooking, and hardback books.
Family Packs: packs of five culturally relevant books for families.
Communities access the ILF website to see what is available, what the different packs comprise of in order to decide what’s suitable. The ILF deals with around 400 remote and isolated communities and organisations nationwide. Points of contact vary from school librarians and crèche workers, to health centre professionals, NGOs, educationalists, speech pathologists and indigenous community leaders. The communities range in size
from 50 to 800 people.
Books in language
A key element of the ILF’s engagement is its Community Publishing Projects programme. The aim is to help people in communities create their
own literature. Research shows that learning to initially read in one’s own language gives a much better outcome in overall literacy. So far the foundation has created and published more than 100 books with more than two thirds of these in Indigenous languages only, and others in English featuring Indigenous language.
According to Williams there are many surviving Indigenous languages in Australia. “Within those there are a number of dialects. For example in
the Torres Strait, where
we work, there are two languages with six dialects,” she said.
Many Indigenous languages are threatened with extinction as the numbers of speakers fall below
a viable level. Only some of the languages have a written
form, usually as a result of missionary activity.
To create books in first languages the ILF project team spends time in
Above: Each year more than 60,000 students participate in the nation-wide Great Book Swap celebration.
Middle: Fish Usmob Gettem is one of many new books in indigenous languages published by the ILF.
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