About Gleebooks Education

Gleebooks Education (formerly Austral Ed) is a book supplier from Australia specialising in the supply of books to overseas International Schools and Universities, especially in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. We also supply schools, teachers and interested customers within Australia.

We offer a service of recommendations on books, especially Australian and multicultural titles, both fiction and nonfiction, for libraries and teachers at primary and secondary level.

Austral Ed was set up in 1993 by Kate Shepherd.   Prior to this, Kate had worked at a specialist children’s bookshop called The Singing Tree for about 10 years. She was aware of International Schools since her own children had attended one for a short time in Papua New Guinea and while working with a number of these schools in Asia she gradually learned about the worldwide network of international schools.

A number of librarians complained that it was difficult to obtain Australian books for their libraries and even more difficult to get information about these books. Another librarian from the US expressed his amazement that no Australian publishers or bookshops ever displayed Australian books at the International School Conferences. Why were the Australians so slack? She had no answer to the question but the germ of an idea was sown. When ownership of The Singing Tree changed, she thought it was time to have a change and so with the strong encouragement of her husband Ron Shapiro, she set up Austral Ed.

At first Austral Ed concentrated on supplying teachers and librarians in Asia, since it was so close and there was a real need, partly because of the growing number of Australian students and teachers working in the area. A newsletter was sent out twice each year and gradually lists of recommended books were compiled. Kate's special interests in Australian picture books and fiction and multicultural books is reflected in the lists.

Teachers and librarians at International Schools move frequently and so when teachers shifted from schools in Asia to the Middle East or in Europe, Kate would get calls to supply books to their new schools and also to attend Conferences in these areas. As a result, she attended a number of International School Conferences each year in Europe, in the Middle East and in Asia.  Austral Ed always put on a very popular display ("Real books!" was usually the cry) at each Conference and wherever possible she would giive a presentation on some aspect of literature.   Austral Ed also began to be known within Austalian and so has incresingly over the years been called on to supply books also to Australian schools.

In 2001, Kate and Ron left Perth to come back to Adelaide to be closer to family and old friends and Austral Ed continued to supply books to overseas schools and also to Australian schools.

At the end of 2010, Austral Ed joined forces with Gleebooks. By combining resources and expertise, we are working on providing a much improved service which is both more comprehensive in scope, and easier to use.  

Mandy Clarke, who for many years worked in a Sydney bookshop as manager of the children’s department, has now taken over the management of Gleebooks Education.  Kate and Mandy enjoy working together, with Kate now working in a part-time capacity. They find it very satisfying to be able to combine knowledge and to work towards providing an ever improving service.

Kate and Mandy very much enjoy meeting teachers and librarians at Conferences and they work hard to make the lists of recommended books as interesting and useful as possible. They hope that an improved website will make for even easier access to the lists and newsletters.  Austral Ed is expanding and we are supplying a growing number of International Schools worldwide and also within Australia. However we are determined to keep our personal contact with teachers and librarians. 

We welcome your feedback and please feel free to contact us with your queries.