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Mar 8, 2013 9:15 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Volunteers prep for Tucson Festival of Books this weekend

TUCSON - This weekend The University of Arizona campus will transform into an outdoor library.

The 5th Annual Festival of Books starts Saturday morning and volunteers are taking care of last minute preps.

"We're putting up the signs on all the booths so people can find the right booth," says Tom Swanson.

Swanson is one of 1,800 festival volunteers. Many of them give their time because they themselves have a love for literacy. "I go to the library every week and check out five or six books," Swanson says.

"I read just about everything," says Volunteer Clarissa Contreras.

They will be among an estimated 120,000 people browsing the tents this weekend.

This year there are more than 400 authors attending, from the award winners, to the up and coming. "This year we have an incredible number of young adult authors," says Kathy Short.

Short is responsible for booking the festival's children and teen authors and illustrators.

She started planning for this year, even before last year's festival wrapped up. "One of the things that we've encountered is that the festival has become very well -known and so we now have publishers and authors begging us to put them on the program," Short says.

Besides presentations from the authors, storytelling for the kids, the popular "Science City" tent, and 20 food vendors, the festival is also a fundraiser. "Over the last four years the net profit has been over $700,000 that has been donated to support literacy organizations in Tucson," says Exhibitor Co-Chair Rick Kleiner.

The festival is free and open to the public. It runs Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5:30pm at The University of Arizona.

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