Ask A Librarian

Book Lovers Roadshow Returns

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 3rd, 2005

Forget the old adage. Jack Walsdorf regularly judges books by their cover, and the practice often brings broad smiles to those listening to his judgments.

He’s quick to point out if The Old Man and the Sea is a little weathered and dog-eared or if Huck Finn is dirty and looks like he’s taken a few knocks. Such flaws could be costly, Walsdorf is sure to comment. But he is just as quick to declare when The Great Gatsby appears clean and well-kept. The result could mean a fortune.

Walsdorf will share his opinions on books this summer when he returns the WVU Libraries with his Book Lovers’ Road Show. The WVU Libraries will host the book appraiser and collector at 2 p.m. July 31 in the Robinson Reading Room of Wise Library.

The author/editor of 15 books relating to the history of printing and bibliography travels the country with his version of Public Television’s Antique Road Show. Rather than furniture and silverware, his expertise is in books. Along with appraising books, he offers tips for book collecting.

Two years ago, close to 70 people stood in line at Wise Library to discover if that book handed down from a grandparent or picked up at a yard sale was a gem. Several people discovered they owned books worth thousands.

Waldorf, with help from WVU Libraries staff, offered appraisals on more than 120 books. Among the treasures were a copy of Poe’s The Raven and a first account of Lewis and Clark’s westward expedition.

“Everyone in the audience was fascinated by Jack Walsdorf’s knowledge of books. Even people who came without a book enjoyed simply watching and listening,” WVU Libraries Dean Frances O’Brien said. “Because of the excitement created by the first Road Show, we expect this year’s event to be spectacular. We are eager to see what treasures people will bring.”

Doors open at 1:45 p.m. and a reception starts at 2 p.m. Walsdorf’s talk and book appraisals begin at 3 p.m.

Admission is $5. Tickets are required for admission and will be sold in advance by mail. A ticket order form can be printed from the WVU Libraries webpage. For more information: 293-5040.

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