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Coming up . . . Rotary Club of Oamaru president Jim Hopkins and Bookarama convener Ele Ludemann are looking forward to this year's Bookarama. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Bookarama is back.

The Rotary Club of Oamaru has confirmed its annual book sale will be held in the old Noel Leeming building in Thames St again this year. Collection and sorting will start on May 2, before selling starts on May 23.

Convener Ele Ludemann was thrilled to be able to hold the event again, which would go ahead even if the region was still at the Red traffic light setting in May.

At Red, mask wearing would be enforced, and there would be a limit of 100 people inside.

‘‘We’ve got fingers and toes crossed, as everybody has, that we won’t be Red by then, but we have to be prepared for it, because we do want it to go ahead,’’ Mrs Ludemann said.

The 100-person limit would probably only affect the first day, when there was often a big line-up of people waiting for the doors to open to the public, she said.

Already, an ‘‘amazing’’ number of books had been donated.

‘‘I picked up some last week . .. two big carloads, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that quantity and quality and variety of books from a single donor,’’ she said.

‘‘Some look as if they’re brand new, never been even opened — or if they have, opened very carefully.’’

While there was an official collection in the three weeks leading up to Bookarama, Rotarians were willing to collect donations year-round.

‘‘We do that because you know, if somebody’s moving house or doing a clean›up or whatever, and they want to give them to us, we can’t say, ‘Well, you know, wait until next May’.’’

Books left over from previous events were donated to local organisations, including the Oamaru Churches Food Bank, Oamaru Kindergarten Association, the Department of Corrections and the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park, while others were stored for the year.

‘‘We do try to disperse the leftovers, and the really good books that haven’t sold, we keep in the container and put them out again the next year.’’

Even with the rise of electronic books, Bookarama was still as popular as ever. Last year’s sale broke fundraising records, raising $40,000 for various local causes, including the new Waitaki Event Centre and the Oamaru Public Gardens playground upgrade.

‘‘We did think that electronic books might take over, but people of all ages, you know, it’s not just older people who are used to real books, but children and teenagers and younger adults, just like a good book, one that you can feel. You know where you are in it, and there is something about a real book — and the battery doesn’t go flat.’’

The old Noel Leeming building was a ‘‘great’’ size for Bookarama — ‘‘the bigger the space, the more we can display’’, she said.

Mrs Ludemann, who has a spare bedroom at her home full of donated books ready to be sorted, encouraged people to have a look through their book shelves for good books that could be donated.

‘‘I go through my shelves really, really carefully every year now, because there are some books that are special and you’re going to read and reread and you’re going to keep forever, but there are other books that you’ve read once or maybe twice and you’re not going to read them again, and it is actually better to pass them on to someone who will, while they’re still in good condition.’’

She also made a plea to people storing books — make sure they are in a clean and dry place.

‘‘Because sometimes we get quite big amounts of books that have been stored in sheds or garages outside and they’ve got damp and dirty, and that’s just really sad because they would have been brilliant books, but they’ve deteriorated and, and because we have so many good quality books we know that the lesser quality ones just don’t sell.’’

Anyone with books they would like picked up before Bookarama opens for drop-offs on May 2 can contact Jim Hopkins on 434-9410 or 021 114-3189.