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Book Collecting

Associated with the annual National Collegiate Book Collecting Competition.

William Claspy: Head of Special Collections & Archives

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William Claspy
Kelvin Smith Library, 201-T
11055 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

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National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest

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Kelvin Smith Library Student Book Collecting Contest


First prize: $1000

Second prize: $500

Third prize: $250

Submission Guidelines

To be considered for the contest, submit the following items by 5pm on March 6, 2020 using our online form:

  1. A 500-1500 word essay describing the theme of your collection.

  2. An annotated bibliography for the books in your collection, including full bibliographic information for and a brief explanation of how each book fits the collection theme.

  3. [OPTIONAL] A want list, listing books you wish to add to the collection in the future.

  4. [OPTIONAL] Digital images of your books.

  5. You must fill out the required fields in the online form completely.

Winners will be announced on Friday, April 10, 2020, and an event will be held on the afternoon of Monday, April 13, 2020 to award prizes.

We will have a pop-up exhibit featuring items from your collections, so if the collection is available to you, please consider having representative items available for the event.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be holding an event or pop-up exhibit for the awards. We will, however, be awarding prizes to the winners!


Book Collection Guidelines

“A collection should reflect a clearly defined unifying theme or interest. It may incorporate ephemera, maps, prints, autograph material as well as books, either hard cover or paperback, as long as they are germane to the collection's focus.  How well a collection reflects the collector's intent is more significant than either the number of items or the monetary value of the collection.” -National Book Collecting Contest guidelines

Theme: This is the most important element of the collection. The books should relate to one another in some way, which could be based on the subject, author or illustrator, geography, physical aspects of the book, or some combination of those elements. Here are just a few examples of potential themes: Cuban poetry, illustrated children’s books, computer software manuals, zines produced in Cleveland, romance novels, books by William Faulkner, underground comix.

Number of books: Between 10 and 50. We welcome smaller collections in this contest! Even if you have a larger collection, please select no more than 50 books for this contest.

Ownership: You must own the books submitted as part of this contest. You can also include a “want list” of books you would like to add in the future.

Type of books: We define “book” loosely in this contest. Your collection could consist of cheap paperbacks, magazines, pamphlets, comic books, leather-bound encyclopedias, or any other bound paper media. It cannot consist of other media such as audio or video recordings. The books you select certainly do not need to be rare or expensive. The most important thing is that they relate to your theme.

Judging Criteria: We will judge submissions based on originality, coherence of the collection, and quality of the essay and annotated bibliography.

Deadline: Entries must be submitted by 5pm on March 6, 2020, using our online form.


Eligibility: All students of CWRU (graduate and undergraduate) are eligible for the contest. If you were a winner in our contest in the past two years, you are not eligible to participate this year. Winners are eligible to participate in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest.

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