Arts & Events

Impress in Book Collecting Contest 2017

By Courtney Seyl

Every two years, Collins Memorial Library holds the Book Collecting Contest, a nationwide event that many private and public universities partake in.

The Book Club of Washington provides the funds for two prizes: a $500 prize for a single collector and a $250 prize for best essay. Collins also provides a $200 award for the Collins Choice Award. The person who wins the $500 grand prize will also have the opportunity to go to Nationals.

“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,” according to the Collins Library Website.

A collection doesn’t have to be just books. Jane Carlin, the library director, explains that a collection can include books, ebooks, posters, movies, maps, or other formats. The point of a collection is to find creative ways to gather interesting subjects together to create a single collection on a topic. The library website says:

“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.”

To enter the contest, students are required to submit a two- to four-page essay, an annotated bibliography of no more than 30 items (the majority of which should be books), and an annotated wish list of five books or items to add to the collection, in addition to the online application available on the Collins Memorial Library website. Applications are due by March 27 at 5 p.m.
“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,” according to the Collins Library Website.

What does winning the contest entail? Carlin said: “The winners are recognized by our benefactors — The Book Club of Washington, an organization devoted to book collecting and literature. They are honored at the Annual Meeting of the BCW as well as receive a $750 check for first prize and a second award for best essay is also awarded and the recipients receive $250. The winner from Puget Sound is entered into the national contest and like Andrew — they have the chance to win! We also offer a third award, the Collins Choice award, funded by the Collins Library. The recipients are also honored at academic convocation.”

The contest has been at the University of Puget Sound since 2010 and (as mentioned above) student Andrew Fink ‘10 was the first person to win the contest and move on to Nationals where he won the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Fink’s collection on Propaganda won him $2500 and the Library received an extra $1000 to promote future Book Collecting Contests. Library director Jane Carlin was also able to attend the contest in D.C. with Fink. She said:

“I was also able to attend and it was a proud moment for Puget Sound. Andrew Fink was a senior majoring in philosophy. The title of his essay was ‘An Interdisciplinary Survey of 20th Century Propaganda.’ Andrew’s collection focused on political language and theory and he has been working on assembling the books for about seven years. This collection on propaganda includes books from literary fiction, pamphlets, art books, books on philosophy and newspaper articles. The books cover the disciplines of philosophy and political science, history and sociology, and art and literature.”

During the course of the application process there will also be a display in the lobby of the library showing examples of what a collection could be. Carlin has seen many collections since the start of the contest.

“We have had collections that include ephemera, posters, playbills, dvds, books, comics, etc. The key is that the collection should be unified and represent a theme or idea. Our first winner, Andrew’s collection, was on propaganda. Other collections have focused on music, kayaking, cycling, architecture, batman, sailing, crime fiction,” Carlin said.

For questions or advice regarding a collection contact Library Director Jane Carlin at or visit the contest website at

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