Every year for nearly 25 years, Baylor alumnus Kim Gorum has waited in line with thousands of community members for his chance to delve into his favorite world.
First an attendee and now a volunteer at the annual Friends of the Waco-McLennan County Library book sale, his passion for reading and respect for the event have only grown through the years.
The free-admission event, which is held at the Extraco Events Center, started Thursday and runs until 9 p.m., Sunday, with over 110,000 sorted books, DVDs, CDs and more, and various special events throughout the weekend. Gina Ford, vice president of the event, said it’s volunteers like Gorum that make the weekend possible.
“We start on Monday morning with forklifts and a team of gentlemen that come in and move all of the boxes,” she said. “It’s men like Kim that actually do the labor of moving the boxes, getting the books on the tables, getting them appropriately set and they are a piece of the pie that is absolutely important and necessary in order to have this ready for Thursday morning.”
Gorum said though he’s had a love for reading his entire life, he began collecting books as a student at Baylor, and now owns nearly 10,000.
“I’ve been collecting books since I was in college,” he said. “It’s sort of a sickness, you know, once you’ve got it, you’re going to have it always. There is no cure. So no matter where I went, I was always looking for good and used bookstores.”
Always searching for the next best book, he knew the sale was something he needed to attend, when he first heard about it, 25 years ago.
“What drew me to this book sale back then was that they pulled out some of the more interesting books, rather than the most valuable,” he said. “The ones they thought would appeal to a lot of people, they would auction off. And every year they continue to add new features and mini sales within the sale.”
Gorum said for 25 years, he has yet to attend the sale and leave empty-handed. This year’s event is the 52nd annual, with an expected guest list of nearly 5 thousand.
“Every year I come out here and I find something really interesting,” he said. “I try to come out without any expectations. If you come here looking for something in particular, or something rare, you’re going to be disappointed if you just come looking for that. But if you just come out, you’ll be running out of money before running out of books you’d like to have.”
After 20 years as an attendee, Gorum said he wanted to do more for the event that had given him so much.
“They’ve been collecting and pricing for months and months, you know it’s basically a year-long thing,” he said. “It’s not as if I did some big thing. It’s just that they always need help putting up tables and busting open all the boxes and they pretty much have to have an army of people to get it all done and I found that was an area I could help.”
Gorum said for him, reading has always been a way to see more of the world.
“In my generation, reading was more important, because knowledge of the world wasn’t really received knowledge, you know, you had to go out and look for it,” he said. “And books were where you found it. Now so much of our knowledge is received. We have 24 hour news channels and the net makes knowledge pretty ubiquitous, but it wasn’t always that way and so I just fell in love with reading.”
Ford said all of the books for the sale are donated by community members and other local libraries that don’t host their own sales, and that they strongly encourage Baylor students to donate used textbooks at the end of each semester.
“We will be having roll cart bins outside of several of the dorms each semester, including Brooks, Penland and Collins, so that if they have textbooks they are finished with, they can donate them to us instead of just throwing them away or leaving them dusty on a bookshelf,” she said.
President of the event, Kenneth Moerbe, said he believes libraries and reading are essential parts of a flourishing community.
“The library budget for the city of Waco is a little over three and a half million, and with the funds we raise at the sale, we can contribute somewhere between 75 to 100 thousand,” he said. “It’s a small part, but for folks that really need books, it’s a real benefit.”