UCSD Libraries Announces 9th Annual Book Collecting Contest

Budding student bibliophiles encouraged to compete for cash prizes

March 4, 2010 – The UC San Diego Libraries is calling all book-collecting students currently enrolled at UC San Diego to participate in the Ninth Annual Student Book Collection Competition. The competition is sponsored by the UCSD Libraries, the UCSD Alumni Association, and the San Diego Booksellers Association, 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 1st prize winners were undergraduate Christopher Moffatt, and graduate student James Tracy. Moffat, spurred by his fascination with George Lucas's fictional galaxy, started his collection on Star Wars fictional literature over a decade ago. Tracy's collection focused on the famous Scopes trial and how it shaped the teaching of evolution. In the 2008 contest, Tracy was awarded 1st prize for his collection on Darwinism, evolution, and religion, which 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."

Awards were also presented to undergraduate Katherine Lee, who won 2nd prize for her Neil Gaiman collection, and Miriam Gross, a graduate student who received 2nd prize for her book collection tracing the history of popular science and medicine in China. Undergraduates Evan Wooley and Teresa Chu tied for 3rd place for their book collections on Mark Twain (Wooley) and a lifetime of book collecting (Chu). In 2008, Wooley was awarded 1st prize for his book collection on Norse Mythology and the tradition of storytelling. He was also the recipient of the 2007 undergraduate prize for his collection focused on Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Past winners have reflected a wide range of collection interests among UCSD student book collectors said Claassen, including African explorers, baseball, Edward Gorey, whales and dolphins, and the Edwardians, as well as the classics of ancient Rome and Greece and Buddhist art. Some collections have centered on a single poem, such as 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, April 9, 2010. 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.

Ranked among the nation's top academic research libraries, the UC San Diego Libraries play an integral role in advancing and supporting the university's research, teaching, and public service missions. As the intellectual heart of the UC San Diego campus, the nine university libraries provide access to more than 7 million digital and print volumes, journals, and multimedia materials to meet the knowledge and information needs of faculty, students, and members of the public. Each day, more than 7,300 patrons visit one of the UCSD libraries and more than 87,000 people access library resources through the UCSD Libraries main Web site.

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