So summer is drawing on, and now that we have had our Fourth of July celebrations (which involved TWO holiday weekends this year) there is only one major holiday left between now and Labor Day. You have been making your preparations for the big day all year long and now it’s nearly here. Of course, I refer to the opening of the Newberry Book Fair. Call it a book sale, call it a book binge, call it what you will (and I’ve been listening—did you think the Book In The Nook hasn’t been reporting?) it will be ready for you now in just a little over two weeks.
So it’s probably time to review the basics. On Thursday, July 26, at noon you may join the jovial throng marching in to find thousands of little treasures. If you are an Associate of the Newberry at the right level (a donor of $100 or above, or $50 if you are under 45—that’s cash, by the way, not books) you may join the line at Preview Night, Wednesday, July 25. That line starts at 3 P.M., with the doors opening at 4. In both cases, of course, you may wait until fifteen minutes after the doors open and stroll in without having to wait in a line. It depends on what you think might happen to YOUR books during that first fifteen minutes.
If you are eligible for Preview Night, you should have received a special postcard by now, showing you have the right to enter. If not, this is the twenty-first century, and folks with computer savvy will be able to check your name against our databanks. As always, you may drop in at the library Wednesday morning, get a ticket to assure you a place in line, and then GO AWAY. The point of these tickets is to make sure people don’t have to wait outside the front door from midnight on. We have not yet been ticketed for blocking traffic (the line has been known to extend along three sides of the block; sometimes we have to run out and remind people that they can’t form a line in the crosswalk) and we don’t want to start. Besides, those of you who come in “just to use the restroom, I won’t do any looking at books on the way” are not fooling anyone.
When you do get in (please walk, don’t run: we just redid the floors and we don’t want you bouncing off each other like billiard balls) be mindful of your fellow shoppers. Don’t swing your empty boxes at people you suspect of trying to snatch up all the Kennedy postcards, don’t elbow people out of your way as you load up all the Rebecca Wellses. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 145,000 books this year, and we don’t decree that the customer behind you in line has to wait until you’ve looked at each one.
There will be some confusion, with the new rooms and all, but relax and wander around until you find yourself in congenial territory. We have more restrooms but fewer drinking fountains this year (and the old pop machine where you could get bottles of water is gone. Walgreen’s and Potash Bros. are within easy reach for replenishing your stock; or bring a supply from home.) We are planning to arrange the books in this order: Room 1–Collectibles, Art, Cooking, etc., Room 2—Mysteries, Science Fiction, etc., Room 3—Science, Travel, etc., Room 4—Children’s, Music, etc., and Room 5/6-Etc. We will have squirreling areas for you to stash your first load of books whilst you walk around and collect more. We have new features in checkout, where we can take cash, checks, credit cards, debit cards (I think), and (it is rumored) ApplePay.
Some of this is still theoretical—the books aren’t even on tables yet, since the books are still in boxes and the tables are on their way—but we’re concentrating on making this as nice a Book Fair as possible for those who are willing to play nice when they get here. It’s a new building, a lot of books, and a lot of people, but it’ll all come right if you keep the 2018 Book Fair motto close to your heart:
Keep Calm, and Spend Money.