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Online auction for library pays tribute to book lover

Judy Summer loved books, and she loved people.

She loved libraries, too, because they were places that brought those two passions together.

Now, Summer's legacy will be highlighted through a benefit auction that the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library is holding in her memory.

Summer, a longtime trustee of the library system, died last Nov. 11 at age 74.

The "Judy Summer Tribute Online Auction" is a first for the library system, in that it is an online auction of books and other print material -- magazines, paper dolls, programs from museums and theater shows -- to raise money for all 37 library branches, said Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski.

The auction is open to the public now and can be viewed at the following site:

The auction runs online until April 30.

Summer, a teacher for 35 years in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda school system and a devoted patron of the arts, collected many of the books and other items herself over the last couple of years, her family members said.

"Books were very important to her," said Carol Karton, Summer's younger sister, who lives in Northbrook, Ill. "She was on a mission with the library. She felt it was a very important institution in people's lives. She felt it served a more important function than simply providing people with books."

At the library, officials praised Summer's service to the system as a library trustee from 1997 to 2011, and said the auction is a fitting continuation of her legacy.

"She was here for both the good times and the bad times, and she stood firm for the importance of the libraries in the community," Jakubowski said. "We miss her dearly. We really, really do. This is something we can do in her honor. She would love it."

Many of the books showcased in the auction are autographed by the authors, whom Summer often contacted with the request that the book be signed so that it could be sold for the benefit of the local public library.

Among the gems in the auction: books signed by Jim Kelly, two Lawrence Block novels donated by the author, a signed Andre Agassi book, a signed Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger book donated by the author and a signed David Brooks book.

Other items include autographed musical CDs from Michael Feinstein and vintage unopened, uncut paper doll books ranging from Jackie Kennedy dolls to "Star Wars." Two theater posters from Shea's Broadway productions, including "Wicked" and "West Side Story," both signed by the full cast, also are in the auction.

Buffalo-area writers are represented well in the auction, with signed books by Lauren Belfer and "American Terrorist," the book about Timothy McVeigh by News Staff Reporters Dan Herbeck and Lou Michel, signed by the authors.

There are 158 separate lots in the auction, containing 175 items in all, library officials said.

The library does not have a target dollar amount in mind to be raised by the auction, but every dollar will go toward funding services at the 37 libraries in the county, library officials said.

"The money is going to definitely help the library in its programming abilities," Jakubowski said. "Whatever monies we will receive will be divided evenly among the 37 libraries. No matter what it brings, it's more than we had the day before."

Karton said that she is saddened that her sister did not live to see the auction of these items she collected with such care but that she knows her sister would have been pleased with the auction's success.

At the library, Jakubowski agreed.

"Judy had such passion for the libraries," she said. "She fully understood the value of the libraries. That just shone through."