It takes 2,000 volunteers to stage the Tucson Festival of Books, including festival-within-the-festival Science City.

About 350 presenting authors and hundreds of panel discussions and presentations, stages, booths, food vendors and entertainers will fill the University of Arizona Mall and adjacent buildings Saturday and Sunday, March 11 and 12.

And behind the scenes the 2,000 volunteers are climbing ladders, hanging signs, schlepping boxes, greeting and escorting authors, answering questions, managing lines, selling books, welcoming festivalgoers at the food court, and counting signs.

About 75 to 80 percent of book festival volunteers return each year, says Lindy Mullinax, one of the co-chairs of the festival’s volunteer committee.

And there are still plenty of spots to fill.

“What we hear from volunteers is the Festival of Books is the best community event in Tucson,” says Mullinax.

“Volunteers love the chance to see and maybe meet their favorite author, or two,” she says. “There’s a wide variety of jobs and shifts to support a satisfying volunteer experience as well as the time to attend an author event at the third largest literary event in the country.”

If you’re interested in meeting an author, Mullinax suggests volunteering in the author transportation, book signing or author escort areas or the in the author pavilion where you might see next big literary star.

In addition, venue monitors observe author presentations, festival guides help the crowds get to the right place, and info-booth volunteers are the festival experts, she says.

Food court hosts and entertainment volunteers help maintain the festival environment and are great jobs for people persons, Mullinax says.

To volunteer go to tucsonfestivalofbooks.org and click on “Volunteer with us!” on the left side of the page.

There you’ll find the list volunteer jobs, the number of slots available, the time frames and the volunteer registration form.

“I can tell you it’s a good feeling when you walk out on the mall and look at the festival happening all around you and know you’ve made a contribution, not only to the event but in support of literacy programs in our community,” says Mullinax.

A few years ago one of the volunteers told Mullinax, “It’s the best gig in town!”