Volunteers for the Pequot Library's annual book sale report there has been a marked increase in books and other donations for their sale, which opens Friday at the landmark Southport library and runs through Tuesday.

But organizers of the Pequot's 53rd annual Summer Book Sale are attributing the larger number of donations to the sale -- one of the largest of its kind in the Northeast -- to public support in reaction to a budget calamity the library nearly suffered in the spring.

Doug Fried, chairman of the Pequot book sale, said the outpouring came after the town's Board of Finance recommended a 2013-14 budget that cut $350,000 in municipal funding initially proposed for the privately owned library, which is open to the public.

That amount was counted on by library officials for one-third of its operating budget for the coming year, and the threat to eliminate the allocation -- it was later restored by the Representative Town Meeting -- prompted people to donate more money, books and time to the historic institution.

Fried said the Pequot sale has attracted quite a few new faces among the 240 volunteers for this year's event, "a positive result of the troubles we went through."

More Information

BUY THE BOOKS
Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Ave., Southport section of Fairfield / 203-259-0346, www.pequotlibrary.com
Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., double the marked price
Saturday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., priced as marked
Sunday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., priced as marked
Monday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., half the marked price
Tuesday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., $5 per bag day
No admission charge.

Although the town funding was restored, Pequot officials said it was a signal to staff and patrons of the library's value and the importance of the summer book sale, which raises more than $150,000 each year selling about 150,000 books, CDs, DVDs and vinyl records in about 40 categories.

There are longtime fans of the Pequot sale who plan their vacations around the event, according to Schuyler Huntoon, a five-year volunteer.

Fried said one man from California schedules a visit to his daughter's home on the East Coast to coincide with the Pequot book sale, not to shop but to volunteer, as he has done since the late 1970s.

True bibliophiles find it's worth the travel to get to the Pequot sale. The sale, among its thousands of offerings, traditionally features rare and one-of-a-kind texts. This year, a stand-out is the Bay Psalm Book, one of only 50 copies in the world of an 1862 printing. The original was the first book printed in North America in 1640.

A room at the Pequot will feature 125 first editions and other special books, including two works inscribed by Jean Paul Sartre, and numerous signed works of U.S. presidents and sports celebrities. A complete inventory of the Pequot's special books will be available on the library's website one day prior to the book sale.

"There's a good selection and you can find hidden gems, too," said Michael Bowersox of Fairfield as he recently dropped off books and videos at the Pequot. Some were purchased at previous book sales, he said.

At the Pequot, Fried said numbers will be handed out to early-bird shoppers beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday, the day before the sale. People in line before 3 p.m. Thursday will take precedence over the people, usually dealers, who place boxes in a line as a placeholder. In other words, people must physically be in line to receive a number, he said.

While the introduction of e-readers has reduced the donations of new novels, the turnout at the book sale speaks volumes about the lingering love for hand-held literature in this digital age, according to Sandy Zera, a three-year volunteer at the Pequot Library.

"I love to see so many people coming in and enjoying books; holding books in their hands. And architecturally, you can't beat this place."

BUY THE BOOKS

Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Ave., Southport section of Fairfield / 203-259-0346, www.pequotlibrary.com

Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., double the marked price

Saturday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., priced as marked

Sunday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., priced as marked

Monday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., half the marked price

Tuesday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., $5 per bag day

No admission charge.