Last year, the Howard County Library gala raised almost $100,000. Last year, the Howard County Library gala raised almost $100,000.

Many communities love their libraries. But affluent Howard Country, 40 miles outside of Washington, goes positively hog-wild over its library system.

That affection reaches its peak at the annual "Evening in the Stacks" gala, held since 1998. Giddy-up, reader: The theme of this year's Howard Country library fundraiser is "Sparkle and Spurs."

Saturday's black-tie-with-cowboy-boots party at the Charles E. Miller Branch in Ellicott City is expected to corral more than 600 book lovers at $100 to $125 apiece. The Western motif should spur a decidedly well-read hoedown.

Mary Doria Russell's "Doc" (Random House) Mary Doria Russell's "Doc" (Random House)

Among the items donated for the silent auction are passes to Disney World, a football signed by Baltimore Raven Haloti Ngata, a week at a beach house in Chincoteague, a vacation package in Philadelphia, tickets to Broadway shows, ski resort packages and concert tickets. Last year's gala raised more than $91,000.

Bestselling author Mary Doria Russell and I will conduct a public discussion of her latest book, a fantastic historical novel about Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, at 8 p.m. "Doc" was named one of the top five works of fiction by The Washington Post in 2011. Copies of Russell's novels will be offered for sale.

According to Director of Public Relations Christie P. Lassen, the six branches in the Howard County library system hold more than 1 million items. For more information about this year's "Evening in the Stacks" call 410-313-7750. The Charles E. Miller Branch is at 9421 Frederick Rd in Ellicott City, Md. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Happy trails.