Sunday, February 22, 2009


Why is this woman wearing her Book Woman tee shirt and carrying her "I cannot live without books" tote bag?
She is dressed appropriately for one of the most significant days of the year.

Dr. Lobo and I, along with our kids, have celebrated a holiday for over thirty years. It occurs during the last full weekend of February, and its significance ranks right behind Christmas and birthdays. Although we sometimes refer to it as the Nerd Convention, it is commonly known as the Library Book Sale.

The Friends of the Library for Oklahoma County’s Metropolitan Library System has one of the largest used book sales in the nation. Booklovers and used bookstore owners from neighboring states travel to Oklahoma City to take advantage of the bargains. They line up in front of the state fairgrounds building where the book sale is held for hours before it begins.

Our family is composed of unique individuals, but we have one thing in common. We all love books. We like to read them. We like to own them. We like to feel those pages between our fingers. When we were raising our kids, we often told them we couldn’t afford various things, but somehow we always managed to have shelves and shelves (and piles and piles) of books.

On the first night of the book sale, Dr. Lobo always left work early so we could be there before the doors opened at 5:30. Unlike those hardy souls who camped out for hours, we usually stood in line for about thirty minutes before the sale began. We took our duffel bags, backpacks, and suitcases. (Other folks use giant trashcans, baby strollers, their kids’ little red wagons, and other wheeled objects, and stuff them full of books.) We spent a couple of hours—or more—looking through the thousands (millions? billions? trillions?) of books, occasionally adding one to our stash. After paying, we lugged them out to the car, where it could be a challenge to find space for all of our newly acquired books.

Now, this sounds like a simple process, especially since the books have been categorized so you can go directly to the topics that interest you, but you have to realize that there are about a million booklovers competing for the goods. This can be a dangerous situation as you try to maneuver your way down an aisle between tables piled high with books. Those trashcan-wielding warriors can be vicious. If you want to look at the books piled underneath the tables (and of course you do), you take your life in your hands. Bibliophiles are looking at books; they tend to miss seeing objects (even overweight objects) on the floor. It is highly probable that you will get kicked or stepped on if you get below table level.

After surviving the battle, we ate at a restaurant, where we discussed our best finds of the evening. Then we went home, sorted our books, and settled down to skim through our treasures.

On the second and third days of the sale, we returned to the fairgrounds for another look, particularly on Sunday afternoon, when prices were lowered.

These photos were taken on Sunday afternoon, when the vast majority of the books and customers were gone. Imagine all of these tables completely covered with books. Now imagine more books piled UNDER the tables. Imagine the room so full of people that you can barely move. Imagine those people with dollies loaded with boxes of books or wagons full of books. You have to really love books to put up with such craziness. (On Friday night, after coming out of the building, Little Guy said, "They don't MAKE enough medication to convince me to go back in there!")

We actually had good self-control this time. In recent years, we have been more selective about the books we buy, and the number we bring home has decreased substantially. We're realizing that we'll have to live to one hundred to read all the books we already own. Dr. Lobo and I bought mostly audio books this time. We like to listen to them when we travel. This picture shows about half the books that three of us bought.

It’s a nerd holiday, for sure. Other families watch the Superbowl, play soccer, or attend rock concerts. Not us. We go to the library book sale.


1 comment:

smeade said...

Jeannie, I was there Friday night as well. It was a mad house. Eek. I think you're right about having to be selective. I didn't know they had audio books or I would have been all over that. Got the kids some books and myself a lot of YA's. All in all a pretty good haul.