April 28, 2008 -- May 1st marks the kick off of the popular UC San Diego Libraries' annual Summer Reading Contest, which runs through July 31. All members of the UCSD campus community, as well as other UCSD library card holders in the greater community, are invited to participate. The primary requirement of the contest is that all books read must be from one of the UCSD Libraries' nine libraries. However, with more than 3.5 million books in the Libraries' collections, that stipulation should not pose a challenge for readers.
All participants must register for the contest and submit book reviews of each book read. In addition, individuals can form teams with other readers that can compete with other teams. Prizes will be given to lone readers and teams in a variety of categories. Prize categories for previous years include: Most Books Read; Reader of the Week; Most Creative Review; and Most Humorous Review.
"Last year, we had 246 registered participants in our Summer Reading Contest," said Mariah Burzynski , the outreach coordinator for UCSD's Social Sciences & Humanities Library, which sponsors the contest. "This reflects about a 38% increase in participants compared to 2006. While about 60% of all participants are UCSD staff members, the contest has seen a 97% increase in participation among undergraduates and nearly a 30% increase among graduate students. Faculty, alumni and members of the public also participate in smaller numbers."
According to Burzynski, the record for most books read during the 3-month period was set in 2006 by a UCSD staff member who managed to consume 64 books. The range of books read during summers past is clearly expansive, from government documents and graphic novels to mysteries and biographies. Last year, some 734 book reviews -some straightforward, others creative and quirky-were submitted in the contest. One entire review used alliteration, based on which letter of the Sue Grafton novels the reader was reviewing. Over the years, the team competition has grown fierce; last year 20 teams vied against each other for prizes.
A major goal of the contest is to increase awareness of the plethora of library resources available to all members of the UCSD community and to encourage and stimulate reading for the sheer pleasure of it.
"Our students work very hard and are always reading and studying. This contest encourages them to read something they want to read, not something they are required to read," said Burzynski. "Many staff members do not realize or think about the fact that they have library privileges, just like faculty and students. I think the contest engages staff in a way that they aren't normally engaged and it increases their awareness of the vast and diverse resources of the UCSD Libraries."
As with previous years, a luncheon will be held in August to celebrate the participants. At the luncheon, additional prizes will be donated by the event's sponsors. Sponsors of this year's contest include: Bella Stanza; Best Western Inn by the Sea at La Jolla; Children's Museum of San Diego; Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa; Franklin Covey; Great News! Discount Cookware & Cooking School; Hornblower Cruises & Events; La Jolla Shores Hotel; LEGOLand California; Levenger; San Diego Harbor Excursions; San Diego Historical Society; and Zumbar Coffee & Tea.
All book reviews, contest rules, and resources for the Summer Reading Contest, which is sponsored by the UCSD Social Sciences and Humanities Library (SSH), are included on the contest web site at: http://sshl.ucsd.edu/summer/ The web site includes several "Top 100" lists and links to online book clubs. It also includes a link to "The Book Spot," a compendium of links to recommended reading lists, which is searchable by genre and theme. The site also includes all book reviews submitted and Reader of the Week profiles as well as information about contest rules and guidance on finding a UCSD book.
With nearly 3.5 million print and digital resources in its collections, the UCSD Libraries are the largest academic library system south of Los Angeles. Comprising 9 distinct libraries ranging from art and oceanography to biomedicine and special collections, the UCSD Libraries rank in the top 25 U.S. public libraries among the members of the prestigious Association of Research Libraries.