Two Students Garner Top Prizes in UCSD Libraries’ Annual Book Collecting Contest

Bibliophiles James Tracy and Thomas Trudgeon win awards for Darwin and poetry collections

UC San Diego graduate student James Tracy and undergraduate Thomas Trudgeon collected First Prize (in the graduate and undergraduate divisions respectively) in the UCSD Libraries’ Annual Student Book Collecting Contest.

Tracy, a history graduate student focusing on Science Studies, is a three-time 1st prize winner in the graduate division (the Cole Prize). His collection on “Charles Darwin: A History of Biography and Interpretation,” builds on his previous prize-winning collections on “The Great Monkey Trial,” and “Darwinism, Evolution, and Religion.” The Cole Prize was named for Barbara Todd Cole, the longtime owner of the landmark John Cole’s Bookstore in La Jolla, as well as a longtime supporter of the library.

Trudgeon, a Thurgood Marshall senior majoring in Literature, took the top award in the undergraduate division, the McGilvery Prize, for his collection on “Rare Books and Chapbooks of North American Contemporary Poets.” The McGilvery Prize was named for La Jolla antiquarian bookseller, Geraldine McGilvery.

James Tracy, Cole Prize Winner

According to Lynda Claassen, the director of UCSD’s Mandeville Collections Library, who coordinates the annual contest, both Tracy and Trudgeon are now eligible to submit their essays and bibliographies to the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest.

“The collections of Thomas Trudgeon and James Tracy serve as wonderful “bookends” for the strengths of our own special collections: American Poetry and the History of Science,” said Brian E. C. Schottlaender, The Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UC San Diego. “Thomas’ collection is nicely focused on La Jolla and the language poets, including Rae Armantrout, UCSD’s recent Pulitzer Prize winner, whose papers are housed at our Mandeville Special Collections Library. James’ collection, meanwhile, builds on his very strong Darwin collection, focusing on the historiography of Darwin, revealing as much about Darwin’s biographers and interpreters as it does about Darwin himself.”

In addition to the two 1st place prizes, an Honorable Mention was given to the following students and their collections: Rosalynn Landazuri, “A Psychedelic Collection;” Melissa Cheyenne Stevens, “Know Justice, Know Peace;” Sara Balmuth, “War and the Struggle for Survival;” Allison Bretall, “Shakespeare Book Collection;” and Teresa Chu, “The Papacy.”

Thomas Trudgeon, McGilvery Prize Winner

The annual competition, which is sponsored by the UCSD Libraries, the UCSD Alumni Association, and the San Diego Booksellers Association, 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 are awarded in separate categories for UCSD undergraduate and graduate students. Monetary prizes in the amount of $500, $300, and $200 are awarded to the prize-winners.

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.”

Past winners have reflected a wide range of collection interests among UCSD student book collectors, including Star Wars, 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.

Students who wish to enter the book collecting contest must submit their essays and bibliographies by early April. Awards are made by late May. For more information, please visit: or contact Lynda Claassen, director of the Mandeville Special Collections Library, at 858-534-1272 or

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.

Media Contact

Dolores Davies
Director of Communications & Engagement