Bundled up against the closer-to-normal winter temperatures that suddenly swept across the state this weekend, Fairfield County residents set out for typical seasonal activities: playing hockey on ice-covered ponds, figure skating, heading north to ski, and making a beeline to the Pequot Library for the annual, four-day Mid-Winter Book Sale.

It may not be a recognized winter sport, but the "athletes" who participate have to be in pretty good shape to hoist the shopping bags and cardboard boxes heavy with books, CDs, LP vinyl record albums, DVDs, and prints they purchase at the event -- a smaller counterpart to the library's fabled summertime sale.

The doors at the landmark Southport library opened at 9 a.m. Saturday and an hour later most of the DVDs were gone. Thousands of books, albums and art work remained and will be on sale through Tuesday at noon. Organizers said they had more books than display space in the library auditorium this year so as patrons pack their bags and boxes with merchandise, volunteers will replace it with the rest of the inventory of donated items.

Cindy Weissman of Fairfield said she and her husband don't miss the Pequot Library's summer or winter book sales. "We have found some first editions in pristine condition. We always find something interesting. We usually come with a list but go home with something unexpected and special," she said.

The books included a wide variety in categories of mysteries, children's books, fiction, spies/thrillers, regular paperbacks and trade paperbacks, and science fiction.

There were unusual offers, like the novel "The Dork of Cork" and the vinyl album "Dixie Cats," with three kittens on the cover. And then there were more traditional offerings like the old classic "Gone with the Wind," and the newer best-seller "The Lovely Bones."

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PEQUOT LIBRARY MID-WINTER BOOK SALE 720 Pequot Ave., Southport Used books, DVDs, recorded music, art work Sunday: noon-5 p.m. Monday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday: 9 a.m.-noon Admission is free. Books on sale are donated, and proceeds benefit the library.

"We came here specifically for space books. That's what he asked for. He has $5 to spend," said Heidi Kuchta, the mother of Charlie Kutchta, 3, who sat on the floor sorting through books related to space and dinosaurs. He chose two: "I want to be an Astronaut" and "Let's Look at the Planets."

Luke Zwynenburg, 6, and his brother Paul, 2, sat on the floor of one aisle going through boxes of children's books. Luke, the recent winner of the Mill Hill School read-a-thon for most minutes read by a kindergartner, said he was looking for "truck books and learning books."

"He picks topics like spiders, sharks, tornadoes, and snakes. He likes the Magic School Bus series," said Monica Zwynenburg, the boys' mother.

The O'Connor family of Fairfield came to the Pequot Library's winter sale for the first time Saturday. Phoebe, 2½, couldn't wait to get home to read her choice, opting to splat down on the floor to thumb through one of her "new" books.

Phoebe's mother, Kate, gave the family an opportunity to stock up on books until the library's summer sale, which annually attracts crowds that range from local browsers to serious collectors from as far away as California. At a commercial book store, O'Connor said, she could spend $15 per book in the children's department, whereas at the Pequot sale she could get 15 books for $15.

"You can't go wrong at a dollar a book. It's a good way to try out new authors instead of spending $25 (on a new book). I've found a number of new authors," said George Estabrooke of Fairfield, who has come to the Mid-Winter Book Sale every year for about a decade. "The summer one, too," he added.

When he finishes reading the books Estabrooke donates them back to the library for inclusion in its next sale.

"Books don't wear out when they've been read before," said Marcia Jones of Ridgefield, describing herself and her husband Gary as "book sale people," adding that they particularly enjoy coming to the Pequot Library for book sales and concerts. "Any excuse to be in this library is a good excuse. It's beautiful," she said.

Marcia Jones said every now and then she purchases a book that's been annotated. "It's interesting to see what someone else's take on it," she said.

"We both read a lot and we love movies," Marcia Jones said, who missed the first hour of the sale -- and the opportunity to purchase DVDs. They went fast.

Attendees did not miss out on the live music. The blues group Mark Naftalin and Friends performed Saturday and again Sunday afternoon. Pianist Naftalin performed with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

People staked claim to some empty spaces under tables and along the perimeter of the auditorium where they placed cardboard boxes and large shopping bags while they hunted through the aisles returning to their boxes and bags with their finds, among them Christopher Goebel of Fairfield.

"I've been coming to the book sales pretty much my whole life. My brother (Andrew) and I work during the summer book sale. It's good to have a chance to just shop at the sale," said Goebel, as he looked through boxes of vinyl record albums. "I started just finding album art to put on my dorm room walls at school and it's grown to about 150 now," he said.

It was surprising to see the number of young people combing through the vinyl.

"Not many people listen to vinyls anymore. It's cool that it's not main stream," said Jessica Zaccagnino, 16, of Fairfield.

Her sister Melissa, 11, chose the Beatles' "Abbey Road," a Billy Idol, Fairfield County resident Meatloaf, and the Cars.

"I've taught them well as far as classic rock goes," said Debbie Zaccagnino, their mother.

The records were sorted into the categories of jazz, rock, folk and country, Latin, and the spoken word. LPs have surged in popularity and are attracting collectors, the library said.

For more information about both of the sales or about donating books, call 203-254-0369, ext. 25, or email booksale@pequotlibrary.com.


720 Pequot Ave., Southport

Used books, DVDs, recorded music, art work

Sunday: noon-5 p.m.

Monday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tuesday: 9 a.m.-noon

Admission is free. Books on sale are donated, and proceeds benefit the library.