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Anastasia Magriplis on the Lifeline Bookfest, Brisbane.

Anastasia Magriplis talks about organising volunteers for the fantastic Lifeline Bookfest, Brisbane...

READERSVOICE.COM: Is organising the Bookfest volunteers a year round job?

ANASTASIA MAGRIPLIS: I manage the volunteers for Lifeline in Brisbane and the Brisbane Bookfest is one of the events that I help organise volunteers for. I assist the other Bookfest organisers with resources and ideas if they would like me to but generally each event has its own organising team.

The Brisbane Bookfest takes up about four months of my year, the rest of the time is spent assisting with the Lifeline Christmas Wrap volunteer recruitment drive, Lifeline retail and warehouse volunteers and assisting with the recruitment of telephone counselling and administration volunteers.

RV: Do you get people from local areas or outside to staff regional Bookfests?

AM: A few people who assist in the regional Bookfests do come and help with Brisbane as well. It is up to the individual if they would like to assist across the Bookfest events and some people do get addicted to helping at the Bookfests, they can’t resist the events!

RV: How many volunteers do you get for the Brisbane Bookfest and where do they come from?

AM: At the moment we have about 1200 people on our Bookfest volunteer mailing list. Last January we had a record 500 people volunteer over 9 days and 84 trading hours and it looks as though we will have around 320 over 43 trading hours in June, which is just fantastic. Most people who help at the event in Brisbane are locals who form part of our Bookfest workforce and have become extremely dependable and great ambassadors of our organisation.

People began volunteering for a number of reasons but I guess the stand out way that people have joined the team has been through either shopping at the event, through word of mouth and just recently through social networking sites like Facebook! We are seeing an increase in the diversity of people who help out at the event, we have young people, older people, people with disabilities, doctors, solicitors, retirees and corporate go getters from all cultural backgrounds!

It’s a great melting pot of enthusiastic; often book loving people, a great team to manage.

RV: Do they tend to be people from bookish backgrounds?

AM: The vast majority of people who help out are people who have a passion for books but that’s not to say that only book lovers come and help out.

A lot of people are just in awe of the event and love being around masses of people and other simply want to help their community and make a difference to the lives of the thousands of people that rely on Lifeline’s services.

It really does take all sorts to make the event a success and one of the most appealing things, from a volunteer managers point of view, is the great attitude and welcoming spirit of the people who help out.

RV: What sorts of duties do they have and what sorts of hours?

AM: Volunteers have a range of duties including information booth, cash register, sorting, packing books into bags, pricing in the different areas and security.

There are only about 10 paid staff across the whole sale, everyone else is a volunteer. They do a fantastic job and frankly, we’d be lost without them.

RV: Is it true that volunteers get to have some time to do their bookshopping before everyone else?

AM: Volunteers are able to get entrance to the halls an hour and a half before the doors open. For this event, the public can get in at 8am and volunteers can come in at 6.30am.

Some volunteers take advantage of this opportunity but to be honest, many just prefer to turn up half an hour before opening for training and the briefing. There is usually plenty of time during their shift, or after, for them to have some time to browse and shop along with all the other shoppers.

RV: What are some of your favorite books of all time and what did you like about them?

AM: My all time favourite books are modern American authors from the 50’s and 60’s. I know it’s clichéd but I really do still call upon To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye (our daughter Phoebe was named after Holden Caulfield’s sister!) as all time favourites.

They were the books that inspired reading in the first place and they still fill me with warmth and passion. I loved Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp – I think John Irving is great.

– To volunteer, email [email protected], visit the website at www.lifelinebookfest.com, or go to Facebook and do a search for the Bookfest. Ms Magriplis said Lifeline were always looking for more volunteers.