This paper addresses rural book distribution in an era before free public libraries came to Australia. Well-to-do, city women established clubs, which solicited donations of “proper reading matter” and raised funds for the purchase of books for their “deprived sisters” in the Outback. They took advantage of a well-developed rail system to deliver book parcels to rural families. In New South Wales and Queensland they were known as Bush Book Clubs.
Testimonials found in the Clubs’ annual reports provide a snapshot of the hard scrabble frontier life and the gratitude with which these parcels were received. This paper looks at the relationships forged between town and country around the distribution of books and the mechanics involved in providing this service at a time before free public libraries and bookmobiles became commonplace in rural communities.
Wagner, R. (2010). ‘A little bit of love for me and a murder for my old man’: The Queensland bush book club. Collections, Characters and Communities: The Shape of Libraries in Australia and New Zealand (pp. 121-142). Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.
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Originally presented at the conference Collections, Characters & Communities: The Shaping of Libraries in Australia and New Zealand, held June 26-27, 2009, at Swinburne University; later published in Collections, Characters & Communities: The Shaping of Libraries in Australia and New Zealand edited by B.J. McMullin, Melbourne: Australia Scholarly Publishing, 2010.