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Oak Park Book Fair Patrons Race For Deals

Shoppers snatch up bargains, raise an estimated $40,000 at annual sale.

The line stretched around the block before Oak Park Public Library's 41st annual book fair, full of people ready to run and get their hands on the best deals.

They were loaded down with boxes and carts, totes and bags. Some waited in line for hours, well before the doors to doors opened at 6 p.m. Friday. Some were there earlier than noon. One couple from Lafayette, Ind., said they'd been waiting for 12 hours.

When the doors finally opened, customers raced down the hallway to the high school's cafeteria, bags flapping behind them.

Book fair volunteers call this "the running of the books," a play on Pamplona's annual bull running. It's an accurate assessment. 

The book fair raises money for the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library, which fund special programs at the library throughout the year, including author readings and Young Adult Coffeehouses.

Soon the cafeteria, holding more than 100,000 neatly categorized books, is filled with people rummaging through each pile and box of records, DVDs, videotapes, computer games, CDs and books.

Steve Kirshenbaum, president of the Friends of the OPPL, said it’s safe to say that about $40,000 was raised on Friday and Saturday for the library, though final numbers aren’t in yet.

The group doesn’t keep a count on the number of buyers on Friday — likely due to the chaotic nature of that day — but Kirshenbaum believes upward of 1,800 people made a purchase on Saturday.

And if they're anything like their Friday counterparts, those buyers walked back out the high school's main entrance with huge smiles on their faces, admiring the new books to add to their collection. 

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