By Shani Berenholz
Watzek Library’s Special Collections, in association with the Himes & Duniway Society, a book collectors group in Oregon, is sponsoring a book collecting competition that will award three prizes to full-time student winners, and the stakes are high! The first place prize is a whopping $1000, second place prize is $500 and third place prize is $250.
Head of Special Collections and College Archivist Hannah Crummé reached out to Scott Howard, a member of the Himes & Duniway Society, to request that the competition take place at Lewis & Clark this year. The contest was started to inspire students to collect books and enjoy having their own personal libraries.
“It’s trying to bring to the surface students who have a love of a subject or author that has resulted in a book collection or collection of books and ephemera,” Howard said via phone. “We’ve done this at Oregon State and we’ve done this at Reed, and I am amazed at how many students have collections of books.”
Submitted collections should be owned by the student and consist of no more than 30 items, though Crummé recommends submitting around 15 items. The collection may be made up of of just books or a combination of books and other items. This could include photographs, CDs, posters, music scores or maps as long as they are consistent with the subject or theme of the collection.
“The collection should be coherent, by which I mean it should really relate to each other,” Crumé said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship has to be obvious, but it has to be able to articulate clearly what the relationship is, that they perceive or tell why they purchased them in the way that they did.”
Further instruction on how to apply are listed on the Himes & Duniway Society website, along with past winners. Howard remembered a winning collection by Mack Sullivan, whom he described as “a typical introspective Reed College student.” Sullivan won in 2013 for his collection entitled “How to Be Alone.” Sullivan raised the question of what it means to be alone in his application essay, and selected the books in his collection to answer this question. Many of the books he submitted were works of philosophy, poetry and fiction.
However, items in the collection do not have to be rare, or even academic, but the objects should express an importance to the student that is submitting the collection. Howard mentioned that cookbooks are a popular submission topic.
“There was a handwritten cookbook collection from a student down at Oregon State and she had found her grandmother’s cookbook,” Howard said via phone. “They didn’t have computers or even typewriters in those days. She was so enthralled with her grandmother’s handwritten cookbook that she started collecting other handwritten cookbooks.”
Camille Pierson ’18 is planning to submit a collection that combines her heritage and love for poetry.
“I have a collection of Spanish modernist poetry, like Rubén Darío, Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, people like that,” Pierson said. “I’ve been collecting since about middle school. My dad’s side of the family comes from Nicaragua and my grandpa was really into Spanish modernists, especially Rubén Darío, so it’s pretty important to me.”
The deadline for submission is April 8 by 5 p.m. The due date was selected to be after spring break so students going home could spend time on the written portion of the application and bring back books for the competition. The application involves a short two to five page essay describing how and why the collection was assembled, an annotated bibliography, an annotated wish list of book titles that the applicant would like to add in the future to enhance their existing collection and digital images of the items in the collection.
“Tell us what you got and why you got it,” Howard said. “You’ve got a passion that you’ve been collecting to, tell us why. Then tell us why a particular book belongs in that collection. Why it’s important enough to describe in this essay or bibliography.”