Those who think technology has taken over the world and that people are living vicariously through computer and television screens, rendering books quaint artifacts of an earlier era, have never attended the Westport Public Library's annual winter book sale.

Hundreds of people sorted through more than 20,000 hardcover and paperback books and LP records Saturday, the first day of the four-day event. They filled their arms, brown paper bags, and totes to the brim with selections of fiction and non-fiction books, children's picture books, young adults chapter books and series, brand-new overstocked books from publishers, videos, cassettes and Broadway Playbills from the 1960s to the present.

"Books are like TV in your head," said Sean Oates, 9, of Stamford, who shopped with his parents, Bob and Sue, and his brother Ryan, 7. Sean said he especially enjoys reading mysteries.

Claire Hanley was so entranced by the books she purchased that the 7-year-old Westport girl could not even wait to get home to dive into the pages. She made herself comfortable under a table and indulged her passion, oblivious to the many shoppers who passed by.

"I find this (book sale) a great opportunity to refresh their libraries. Both my kids are voracious readers. I have to pull them out of books," Shannon Hanley said of Claire and her son Connor, 9. "They love books and I love that they love books," she said.

Karen Zimmer of Norwalk called reading her life-long passion and treasure. Identifying herself as a third generation only child, Zimmer said, "Books became my companions when there was no one else to play with, and they opened my world."

Zimmer said she and her husband have chosen the houses they have purchased based on the buildings' ability to accommodate the couple's books.

Seeing the books accumulating in Zimmer's arms, one of the 80 volunteers offered to get her a bag, but Zimmer refused saying that having to carry them would "limit my obsession."

George Audette of West Haven spent most of his time huddled over boxes of LP records. "I enjoy both reading and listening to music," Audette said.

Most people know about the library's summer and winter book sales and look forward to them.

Tim Keefe of Norwalk stumbled upon it Saturday when he returned some books his children had borrowed from the library and decided to stay and shop. "I enjoy reading books with my children because it's a good bonding experience," he said browsing through the children's books section.

Book Sale Chairwoman Mimi Greenlee said the publishers' overstocked books flew out the door. She said she is grateful teh Westport Public Library is in a community of readers because so many of them donate books to the sale and so many of them attend the sale to purchase other books.

The sale continues through Tuesday. On Sunday, March 6, 1 to 5 p.m. the books will sell for a set, although reasonable price. On Monday, March 7, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., all inventory will be sold at half-price, and on Tuesday, March 8, 9 a.m. to noon, all remaining items will be given away free.

Greenlee said many local non-profit organizations, charities and schools take advantage of the free offerings.

But there will be little rest for the weary library staffers and volunteers. No sooner does the winter book sale end than they begin preparations for the annual summer book sale, which features more than 100,000 books and other items. Greenlee said the library accepts donations of books every day. "We have a crew of 45 sorters," she said.

For more information about the sale call the Westport Public Library, 20 Jesup Road, at 203-291-4800 or visit the website, www.westportlibrary.org.