COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Screenwriters, playwrights and columnists joined students, faculty and staff at the University of Maryland Wednesday to raise money for the campus’ seven libraries.
In an all-day reading marathon and book sale, celebrities and local authors read excerpts from their works or their favorite selections from other authors.
Headliner Art Buchwald, a syndicated columnist, opted to talk about the history of books and their importance to him.
“I feel so strongly about libraries,” he said. “The library was the place I’d escape to when I was growing up.”
He told an amused audience of 50 that libraries have been around a long time. “When men wrote the stories on cave walls, caves became the first libraries,” Buchwald said.
The second annual marathon, held at McKeldin Library, was part of the university’s celebration of National Library Week, said Joanne Harrar, director of campus libraries.
She said schools and public libraries have actively celebrated National Library Week for years. “We decided it is important enough for us to do, as well,” Harrar said.
While Diane Riehm, host of “The Diane Riehm Show” on WAMU- FM, and Baari Shabazz, author of “For Colored Guys Who Have Gone Beyond Suicide and Found No Rainbow,” read aloud, a few hundred people were taking advantage of the book sale.
“It’s a nice way to raise a little additional income for things we need for our students, faculty and staff,” Harrar said.
She said the 4,000 books for sale were all gifts to the university’s libraries, but were either duplicates or popular culture books not normally kept in the research libraries.
Neal Bross said he found so many bargains last year, he had to return.
“I got a bag full of good deals,” Bross said. “I’m interested in music scores and they were practically giving them away,” said the Suitland computer specialist.
The books sold for 50 cents to $10, said Sharon Beck, gifts coordinator for the libraries. The money raised will be used to buy other books and materials, she added.
About 50 people at a time browsed the dozen table of novels, biographies, art books and vintage magazines while others waited in a line outside of the room.
Phillip Estes spent nearly 30 minutes searching through the Life magazine stacks. He walked away with a half-dozen dating back to the 1940s to add to his collection at home.
“They would be too expensive to try and purchase them elsewhere,” said Estes, of Prince George’s County.
Trish Hughes, a book dealer from Carroll County, was looking for first editions of books she could sell through her mail order business.
She filled up a cardboard box and cloth bag with books on nature, history and Native Americans.
“I plan to resell these, but they won’t be this cheap,” she said.
Organizers said they were expecting to raise at least $6,000. -30-