UCSD Libraries Announces 8th Annual Book Collecting Contest

Budding student bibliophiles encouraged to compete for cash prizes

March 12, 2009 – The UC San Diego Libraries is calling all book-collecting students currently enrolled at UC San Diego to participate in the Eighth Annual Student Book Collection Competition. The competition is sponsored by the UCSD Libraries, the San Diego Booksellers Association and the Friends of the UCSD Libraries, and is aimed at nurturing and recognizing budding book collectors and encouraging UCSD students to collect books, to build their own libraries, and to appreciate the qualities and the pleasures of the printed word. Prizes will be awarded in separate categories for UCSD undergraduate and graduate students. Monetary prizes in the amount of $500, $300, and $200 will be awarded to the top three entries in each group.

"Judging from our previous winners and the numerous submissions we received last year, UC San Diego has some very focused, disciplined, and creative book collectors among its student body," said Lynda Claassen, Director of UCSD's Mandeville Special Collections Library and coordinator of the competition.

According to Claassen, last year's winners were undergraduate Evan Woolley, an Engineering major at Warren College and History graduate student James Tracy. Woolley's book collection on Norse Mythology and the tradition of storytelling included classic texts on Norse myths and the Vikings as well as less conventional examples of Scandinavian storytelling such as Beowulf and works by J.R.R. Tolkien and Henrik Ibsen. Woolley was also the recipient of the 2007 undergraduate prize for his impressive collection focused on Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Tracy's collection on Darwinism, evolution, and religion included works by Charles Darwin and other scientists as well as works by philosopher Herbert Spencer, who coined the famous phrase "survival of the fittest."

Past winners have included such diverse topics as African explorers, baseball, mountaineering, Edward Gorey, whales and dolphins, the Edwardians, and surfing. Past submissions, said Claassen, have reflected remarkably wide-ranging collecting interests among the UCSD student body, from Chinese history and the classics of ancient Rome and Greece to Buddhist art. Some collections have centered on a single poem (Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner), a single theory (Einstein's Theory of Relativity), or a single subject like island living or the craft of writing.

Book collections must include at least 25 items, must be owned by the student submitting the collection, and must be built around some unifying concept or theme. They may feature a specific author or subject, contemporary or historical; an illustrator; or a physical aspect of the book, such as fine binding or significantly autographed editions. Paperbacks and/or ephemera that enhance the collection are encouraged. Modern textbooks should not be submitted.

To qualify, each contestant must prepare and submit the following:

  • A brief essay of 750-1,000 words about the collection. The essay must describe the nature and character of the collection, how and why it was assembled, when it was begun, and the future direction(s) it may take.
  • A bibliography of the items in the collection, citing author, title, publisher, and place and date of publication. The importance of individual pieces should be noted, as well as any unusual attributes. A desiderata list should also be included with the submission.

After reviewing the essays and lists, the judges will ask finalists to bring their collections to the Mandeville Special Collections Library for final judging. Essays and bibliographies must be submitted by Friday, 24 April, 2009. Awards will be made in mid-May.

Essays and bibliographies should be sent to Lynda Claassen, Director of the Mandeville Special Collections Library, 0175-S. Questions about eligibility or process may also be directed to her at 858.534.1272 or lclaassen@ucsd.edu.

The UC San Diego Libraries, ranked among the top 25 public academic libraries in the nation, play an integral role in advancing and supporting the university's research, teaching, patient care, and public service missions. The nine libraries that comprise the UCSD Library system provide access to more than 7 million digital and print volumes, journals, and multimedia materials to meet the knowledge demands of scholars, students, and members of the public. Each day, more than 7,300 people stream through one of the university's nine libraries; The Libraries vast resources and services are accessed more than 87,500 times each day via the UCSD Libraries' Web site.

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