Top photo, Bob-E Metzger, chairwoman of the Friends’ Book Fair at the time, looking over boxes in the storage area maintained by the organization, circa 1990s. Below, clockwise from left, Bob-E shelving books moved from the small house across the street into the present, now-renovated library building in the early 1990s; Suzanne Gosman and Bob-E at the fair in the 1980s, and Christine Langerfeld and Bob-E at the fair, circa 2000s.
The Montauk Library lost one of its best friends this month.
Barbara Metzger, a prolific novelist, dedicated reader, and longtime volunteer with the Friends of the Montauk Library, died on June 21 at the age of 79. She had been a regular visitor to the library almost until the day of her death.
Bob-E, as she was known, was instrumental in organizing the Friends of the Montauk Library book fairs staged on the Green on July Fourth weekends from 1980 to 2014. The events involved a colossal amount of work: sorting through piles of books that were donated throughout the year, transporting boxes upon boxes to the fair site in town, then disposing of or hauling back to the library basement whatever books were left over.
Bob-E would recruit and lead a virtual army of volunteers, as many as 100, who in addition to lugging books would sell them by the pound at the cordoned-off site on the Green. There were other attractions as well: white elephant tables, toys and children’s games, crafts and jewelry, baked goods, plants, and refreshments. For years the book fair raised thousands of dollars for library programs and equipment, attracting droves of locals and tourists on Montauk’s busiest weekend. Eventually, though, for a number of reasons, the Friends decided to move the book fair – now reduced in scale – to the library.
That is where visitors will find the fair this Saturday, July 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to books, plants, baked goods, refreshments, and other items will be for sale. Kids can paint surfboards, do other crafts, and play games, and there will be a bucket raffle with, the Friends have promised, “many great prizes.” The event will continue on Sunday, July 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with books at newly reduced prices and a continuation of the raffle.
Meanwhile, in the library’s upper level, people who visit at any time will find more than 40 books by Barbara Metzger, a former greeting card verse writer whose romance novels earned awards as well as praise for, among other things, their “distinctive wit.” Downstairs, visitors will find a plaque that dedicates “the Bob-E Metzger Meeting Room.” Inside that room is a framed copy of a Newsday profile of Bob-E, in which Christine Langerfeld, past president of the Friends of the Montauk Library, is quoted as saying:
“[Her] dedication and devotion to the library is unbelievable. … Bob-E Metzger is the best friend the Montauk Library could ever have.”