Newberry Library Book Fair 2014 and Bughouse Square Debates

Newberry Library Book Fair 2014 and Bughouse Square Debates
Washington Square Park (a.k.a., Bughouse Square), 901 North Clark Street (across from the Newberry). Date unknown. Public domain

The 30th annual Newberry Library Book Fair kicks off tomorrow, Thursday July 24th at noon through Sunday, July 27th.  Chicago’s favorite book sale features more than 120,000 used books in over 70 categories from cookbooks to collectibles–most priced under $2.00.

Some special finds this year include:

  • Autographed titles by three Nobel Peace Prize winners (Barack Obama, Albert Schweitzer, Desmond Tutu).
  • An English first edition of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy for $3,000.
  • Books from the personal library of Roger Ebert, marked with his name, the date he bought the book, and where he was living at the time of purchase.

First Timers:

For those who have never been to the book fair, you may want to heed this timely advice from one who knows–the person who has been first in line at the fair for the past 15 years.

“I’ve been the first person in line on Thursday for the past 15 years…My advice for people coming to the Book Fair…

1. Flip flops may be comfortable, but if you wear them be prepared to get stepped on numerous times…Wear sneakers if you can.

2. Be courteous.

3. Don’t lay the books you intend to buy off to the side where someone may mistake it for a possible treasure of their own.

4. Try to leave strollers and carts at home or in a convenient place. Anyone who goes to the NBLBF knows that space between tables is limited and ALWAYS crowded, and trying to get a stroller through a narrow aisle isn’t going to happen.

5. Don’t read the book at the table and hope it’ll morph into something else.Go off to the side and look through them, and remember there are areas where unwanted books can be placed…” submitted by Jerry on the Newberry Library website, Saturday, July 19, 2014.

AND from the Newberry Library…”We encourage you to help us go green by bringing your own shopping bags.”

Bughouse Square Debates

In addition to the four-day book sale, the Newberry will once again sponsor the Bughouse Square Debates on Saturday, July 26 from noon to 4 p.m. in Washington Park across the street from the Library.

Relive the deliriously disreputable days of North Clark Street in the 1920’s and 1930’s when Washington Park (aka Bughouse Square) was famous for its “Soapbox” debates which drew poets, preachers, left-wing agitators, and crazies shouting about whatever was on their mind amidst curious spectators.

At its height, the Chicago Bughouse Square Debates were known both nationally and internationally as free speech spaces comparable to those in London’s Hyde Park and Greenwich Village in New York.

The “bughouse” name which became the popular designation for Washington Park is slang for a mental health facility–because many believed that the people who were taking part in the free-speech oratories were crazy.

Legendary speakers from those times include: anarchist Lucy Parsons; “clap doctor” Ben Reitman: labor-wars veteran John Loughman; socialist Frank Midney; feminist-Marxist Martha Biegler; Frederick Wilkesbarr (“The Sirfessor”); Herbert Shaw (the “Cosmic Kid”); the Sheridan twins (Jack and Jimmy); and one-armed “Cholly” Wendorf.

This year’s debates will be hosted by Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan. The program kicks off at noon with performances by the Shakespeare Project of Chicago, led by Stephen Spencer, and with the Environmental Encroachment Marching Band. Guests will be treated to voices from the past including: Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar, Brutus, Marc Antony and other rhetorical greats from Shakespeare.

The performances will be followed by the 2014 line-up of Soapbox Speakers:

  • Jamie Albert, The Blame Pattern: The Most Important Function in Society
  • Mike Brennan, Illinois Single Payer Coalition, How to Guarantee Health Care as our Human Right
  • Mike Flores, Everything We Know About Joseph McCarthy Is Wrong
  • John Holtgreve, The Redeeming Power of the Market
  • Jill Howe, The Boundary
  • Joe Iosbaker, Antiwar Committee Chicago, Syrian Democracy and “Moderate” Syrian Rebels: An Oxymoron and a Flimflam
  • Erwin Lutzer, The Supremacy of Jesus: A Savior Who Can Lead Us into God’s Presence
  • Lucky Pierre, 1000 Actions for Chicago Torture Justice
  • Enrique Perez, Why Rahm is STILL Unbeatable, However…
  • Regional Relationships (Ryan Griffis and Sarah Ross), City Pig, Country Pig
  • AJ Segneri, On the Back of Labor
  • Scott Summers, Illinois Green Party’s 2014 candidate for Governor, There’s No Place Like Homelessness, or, Gimmie Shelter: the Scourge of Homelessness in America
  • Brian Terrell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Drones–Murder by Remote Control

What you need to know to go:

Dates: Book Fair, Thursday, July 24, 2014 to Sunday, July 27; Bughouse Square Debates, Saturday, July 26, noon.

Hours: Thursday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton, 312-255-3700.

Cost: Admission is free; all proceeds from book sales support the Newberry.

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