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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Little Bookroom in Australia



The Little Bookroom is Australia's first and, therefore, oldest children's specialist book shop. I learned this while cataloging books this morning and came across a copy of L.H. Evers' The Racketty Street Gang. At the bottom of the front free endpaper was the bookseller's label, plain in design, but an invitation to discover a rich history of children's literature in Australia.

Founder Albert Ullin opened the doors to the Melbourne book shop, at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets, on Friday the 13th, 1960. Apparently not too superstitious about the date, "lucky 13" worked out pretty well, as the book shop has enjoyed 50 years of business. How many speciality book shops of the same vintage are still around to claim the same?

Ullin named his shop for the title of an Eleanor Farjeon (of London) collection of short stories.


In 1963, the Little Bookroom moved to the Equitable Place address printed on the bookseller label, where they stayed for the next 16 years. The shop now does business at 759 Nicholson Street, with all its original shelves having survived each move.

There have been several owners, but it was Ullin's vision and bookselling experience that shaped the course the book shop would take and he was awarded numerous honors during his career, including the prestigious The Order of Australia Medal in 1997 for his services to children's literature in Australia and overseas.

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