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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

Thanks to Kelvin Smith Library's Book Collecting Sponsors

Alumna Julia Gelfand has graciously supported KSL's Book Collecting contests and events since 2017.


The Northern Ohio Bibliophilic Society (NOBS) is a co-sponsor.

Book Collecting Contest 2021

2022 Winners

Announcing the 2022 Winners!

1st Place Undergraduate

Andromeda Vorndran
Scavenging the Revolution: A Collection of Second Hand Radical Works

1st Place Graduate
Samuel Nemeth
Nineteenth-Century Orchestral Expansion

2nd Place
Francesca Mancino
Reassessing Modernism: Women Writers and Publishers of the Lost Generation

3rd Place
Carson Smith
Epics: Vehicles of Culture

It’s time for the Kelvin Smith Library Student Book Collecting Contest!

The contest is part of the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. Since 2017, alumna Julia Gelfand and has graciously provided sponsorship for the Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) contest and events related to book collecting. KSL also welcomes the Northern Ohio Bibliophilic Society (NOBS) as co-sponsors of the contest this year. In addition to the prize amounts, both first place winners will receive $50 gift certificates to Loganberry Books. All four winners will receive complimentary 1-year memberships in NOBS.


  • First place (Graduate): $700
  • First place (Undergraduate): $700
  • Second place: $400
  • Third place: $200

Book Collecting Contest Rules:


  • Submission deadline: Friday, March 11, 2022 5pm EST
  • Winners announced: Week of April 4, 2022
  • Awards reception event and pop-up exhibit featuring items from each participant's collection: April 13, 2022 ( A virtual event will be offered if pandemic restrictions against gatherings are in place.)

Submission Guidelines

You must submit the following items by 5pm on Friday, March 11, 2022 using the KSL CWRU Student Book Collecting Contest Submission 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.

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


Book Collecting Contest & Events 2017-2021

People gathered around a table with books.


2017 was the inaugural year of the Kelvin Smith Library Book Collecting Contest. A reception was held at Kelvin Smith Library on April 28, 2017 honoring the contest winners.

1st place: Virtuoso String Performers and Pedagogues of the Twentieth Century, Katherine Rogers, graduate student

2nd place: Submarines, Evan Cerne-Iannone, undergraduate student

3rd place: From Joan of Arc to Richard III: War and Peace in Late Medieval England and France, Dominica Rollins, undergraduate student

Image of the 2017 Book Collecting Reception Courtesy of Kelvin Smith Library

Man standing at a podium and speaking to an audience.


Instead of a contest in 2018, John Buchtel, the former head of special collections at Georgetown University now of the Boston Athenaeum, presented "Jane Eyre as Material Text: The Lives and Afterlives of a Classic." The recording is available on You Tube: Jane Eyre as Material Text: The Lives and Afterlives of a Classic

Image of John Buchtel Courtesy of Kelvin Smith Library



1st place: A Look at China History Through American Eyes: Chinese Elements on the Life Magazine Covers, Jianhong Guo, graduate student   


2nd place: Editions and Adaptations of Dracula, Leah Davydov, graduate student

3rd place: Comics and Zines, Matthew Haberbusch, undergraduate student

Image Courtesy of Clem Onojeghuo


Books on a table.


The winners of Kelvin Smith Library's Book Collecting Contest were announced and celebrated remotely due to the pandemic.

1st place: A Case for Wider Recognition of Owen Wister, Meghan Schill, graduate student

2nd place: My International Treasure-Trove: Global Choral Compositions, Anna O'Connell, graduate student

3rd place: Opera Librettos, Paul Abdullah, graduate student

Image Courtesy of Paul Abdullah


Rebecca Romney


In April of 2021 "Mythbusting Book Collecting with Rebecca Romney," a virtual event was held.  The recording for this event is available on the CWRU YouTube channel. Rebecca Romney is a rare book dealer, appraiser, and author. She is the co-founder of Type Punch Matrix, a Washington DC-area rare book firm specializing in pivotal works from every field. Romney has been in the trade since 2007, when she was hired by Bauman Rare Books and began appearing on the HISTORY Channel’s television show Pawn Stars as the rare book specialist in 2011. She is one of the longest running specialists (and the only regular woman specialist) on the show. Additionally, Romney is the co-founder and one of the judges of the Honey & Wax Prize, an annual award for an outstanding book collection built by a woman, age 30 or younger, living in the United States. As a researcher and collector, Romney's personal interests lie in genre fiction, especially science fiction, fantasy, and romance. In 2017, Rebecca published her first book: Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History.

Image of Rebecca Romney Courtesy of Dave Pappas


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