Book Collecting Contest 2021

Book Collecting Contest 2021 graphic

The aim of this competition is to encourage full-time students at Puget Sound to read for enjoyment and to develop personal libraries throughout their lives, to appreciate the special qualities of printed or illustrated works, and to read, research and preserve the collected works for pleasure and scholarship. Collections can be on any subject and this contest is open to all full time students.  The contest is offered every other year.

The Book Club of Washington generously funds two awards: $500 to a single collector and $250 for best essay. A third award of $250, the Collins Choice Award, is sponsored by the Collins Library.  No late entries are accepted. All applicants are invited to a recognition event at the Collins Memorial Library on Thursday, April 22, 2021, 4:00-5:00 pm. (Details forthcoming.)

What is a collection?

  • A collection consists of items that a student has come to own as a consequence of developing a particular interest, which may be academic or not.  A collection may consist of all books or a combination of books and other formats. For example, a collection focusing on a dramatist might include a playbill or poster associated with a performance.  A collection on birds might include illustrations or a collection representing geography may include maps. For this contest, a collection consists of no more than 30 items of which the majority should be books, but related materials such as photographs, illustrations, maps, ephemera, CDs, music scores, posters etc. may be included. Collections can be on any topics. Subjects can be contemporary or historical and may stress bibliographical features such as bindings, printing processes, type, editions, illustrations, etc. Comic books and graphic novels will be accepted. Collections of ephemera alone if of historical interest will be accepted.  Current textbooks should not be part of a collection, but historical textbooks may be included.
  • If you seek additional information or advice about book collecting, members of the Book Club of Washington are more than happy to consult with applicants. You can find more information about the Book Club of Washington web site, or contact Jane Carlin.

Your application should be in a Google document and include the following information in one single document.

  • A 2-4 page essay (BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR NAME & EMAIL ON THE ESSAY) stating the name and theme of the collection and describing how and why the collection as a whole was assembled. The essay should also focus on how the items in the collection are connected, or relate to, each other and to the theme, and how they come together to build a cohesive collection.
  • Either integrated within the essay, as part of the bibliography, or as a separate section of your word document, please include a selection of digital images of items in the collection.
  • An annotated bibliography of the items in your collection, in alphabetical order with each individual title numbered. The annotations should reflect the importance of each item to the collection as a whole and to how the item connects or builds on the other items in the collection.
  • An annotated “wish list” of up to five other book titles that you would like to add in the future to complete or enhance your existing collection.
  • In addition, we ask that you complete a 2021 application form. Submissions due by 5:00 pm, Friday, March 26, 2021.

Criteria for Evaluation

  • The purpose of the collection is clearly stated.
  • Evidence of the connections between the items in the collection.
  • Evidence of creativity in building the collection.
  • Evidence of the importance of the collection to the collector.
  • Originality, innovation and uniqueness.
  • Quality of the collector’s essay describing the collection and addressing these criteria.
  • Appropriate and complete citations with meaningful annotations. Annotations should briefly describe the content of the item, and explain how the item addresses the purpose of the collection. Citation style must be consistent, but can follow any style format (e.g. MLA, APA).
  • Must submit digital images of items in the collection.

Criteria for the Collins Choice Award
The Collins Choice Award recognizes a student whose collection illustrates the hallmarks of a liberal arts education. A liberal arts education reflects an understanding of how knowledge is organized and interpreted while it imparts skills that foster a life of continuous learning.

The collection and essay should illustrate these concepts in addition to reflecting the passion and enthusiasm the student has for their collection.  Essays should introduce the reader to the inspiration for the collection as well as the process of collecting and how the individual works connect to one another.  This in turn reveals the creativity, critical thinking and synthesis of ideas represented in the collection.

Contest details

Read about former winners and check out articles on book collecting.

Links to other book collecting contest sites:
Fine Print Magazine
Boston College
Harvard University
Swarthmore College
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Chicago
Washington University in St. Louis
Arizona State University
Amherst College

Great reading for book lovers:  Rare Book News from the Antiquarian Booksellers Association

Contact Jane Carlin, Library Director, for additional information at