The 17th Library of Congress National Book Festival is just a few weeks away. On Sept. 2, more than 100 best-selling authors and illustrators will be talking about everything from kids books to cookbooks, mysteries, poetry, novels, biographies and history.

We’ll publish a special issue of Book World on Aug. 27 to help you plan your whole day.

Ned the Newshound at the National Book Festival. (The Washington Post)

If you’ve got your nose in a book, it might seem like the festival pretty much runs itself, but actually it’s the work of hundreds of people. And you could be one of them. The library is looking for volunteers — about 1,000, in fact. You can serve in a variety of ways: welcoming festival-goers to the Washington Convention Center, providing directions to the various pavilions, serving as an usher, working in the information booth, handing out programs and helping keep order at the book signings.

As a volunteer, you just need to commit to one 4½ -hour shift on Saturday, Sept. 2. And you never know what extraordinary moments of literary history you might witness. (One year, I got to see Don DeLillo meet Margaret Atwood for the first time.) But the real joy comes from helping thousands of book lovers find their favorite authors.

Volunteer coordinator Faye Levin has made the training process as painless as possible. The only required preparation is attendance at one 90-minute meeting at the Library of Congress. Several alternate training times are available:

• Tuesday, Aug. 29, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

• Thursday, Aug. 31, from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Friday, Sept. 1, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

If you’re interested, click here to fill out the Google submission form. You can also send an email to Levin at

The Washington Post is a charter sponsor of the National Book Festival, which is free and open to the public.

Ron Charles is the editor of Book World.