UA Libraries sponsors book collecting contest

CW Staff

Student book collectors are invited to participate in the University Libraries’ fourth annual book collecting contest this spring. Contest winners will receive cash prizes and a one-year membership in the Rotunda Library Society.

John Sandy, the head librarian at Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering, is chairman of the contest committee.

“Book collecting is an enjoyable way for students to immerse in culture,” he said. “Books are without boundaries as they provide a means to communicate everything about our society, exciting stories, important discoveries, as well as creative endeavors of humanity.”

Contest entries will be judged in separate divisions for undergraduate and graduate students. Winners will receive $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $100 for third place. Winning collections will be on display in Gorgas Library for six weeks and will be featured on Picasa, an international online photo sharing service.

Courtney Barbour, a graduate student in library and information science, won an award in last year’s contest for her collection of zines, which are self-published works of minority interest that typically have relatively few copies in circulation. Barbour has collected zines written by various women since 1994.

“I got into zines when I was a teen in high school. I somehow ran across some at my local record store, and I decided that I could do it,” she said. “All I needed was a typewriter, some paper and some glue. So I started making zines, and I haven’t stopped since. During that time, I’ve collected a lot of zines and traded with other people in the zine community.”

Contest collections may be large or small, and they may concern any subject. Criteria for evaluation include creativity, uniqueness, personal value and usefulness and the quality of the collector’s essay describing the collection. Entry forms and guidelines can be found on the University Libraries web site. Submissions are due March 31.

“I think that collecting books, zines, pamphlets, etc. is important because there are so many different types of things people are interested in, so all collections are very different,” Barbour said. “It was interesting to me last year to see the different types of collections and how diverse they were and just to see what other people are collecting.”

In previous years competitors have submitted collections about southern politics, soccer and Greta Garbo, among other diverse topics.

“This is a great opportunity for students to share their book collections and showcase the academic side of our great University,” Sandy said. “It’s a wonderful way for student book collectors to share their love of reading and passion for knowledge and books with others.”

On a personal note, Sandy said he recommends a book by John Carter called “ABCs for Book Collectors” for people who are interested in getting started with a new collection. Several copies of the book are available at Gorgas Library.

More than 40 students entered the University’s first book collecting contest. Sandy said many universities and colleges sponsor such contests, and the winners often continue to compete in a national contest sponsored by Fine Books and Collections.