Bibliographical Society

Book Collecting Contest

The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia sponsors a biennial Book Collecting Contest for all UVa students. The next contest, the 51st, will be held in 2016.  Judges are looking for a collection of books focused around a particular subject, not a list of all the books you own.

First Prize: $500 and $1,295 scholarship to Rare Book School; Second Prize: $300; Honorable Mention: $175;  over $400 in gift certificates offered by local booksellers

The first place winner is eligible for the National Collegiate Book Collecting Competiton, which awards a top prize of $2,500.

The Rules

  • The contest is open to all UVa undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
  • Collections that have won a prize in this contest in a previous year may not be submitted again in a subsequent year; but former winners are welcome to submit other collections in subsequent contests.
  • The collection must be owned by and collected by the contestant.
  • Judges consider collections on the basis of coherence of focus, method of collecting, progress made in creating the collection, and the quality of the explanation of the collection’s focus. Where appropriate, the quality of the description of the books, that is, of the physical characteristics such as binding, cover decoration, and illustrations and bibliographical features such as format, printing and publication details, is taken into consideration. Collections are not judged on dollar value or size. Recent winning collections in the UVa contest have focused on Tibetan books, physics textbooks, Victorian serial fiction, children’s series books such as the Hardy Boys books, eighteenth-century English literature, central African literature, flip-books, graphic novels, and Alexander Dumas.
  • Contestants should submit the following by the deadline of Feb. 12, 2016:
  1. A list of books organized by author, subject, or some other principle appropriate to the collection.  For each item, include at least the following information: author, title, date, place, publisher, hardback or paperback, and an indication of condition.
  2. An Essay. The essay might answer some of the following questions: How did you start this collection? What are your most interesting books, and why? How do you intend to develop your collection in the future? What titles does the collection most need?
  3. Information about themselves: Name, street or postal address, telephone number, email address, UVa school and (if relevant) class.
  • Entries should be sent by email, U.S. or messenger mail to Mrs. Anne Ribble, Executive Secretary, Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, PO Box 400152, Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904; email  The winners’ names will be publicly announced and prizes awarded at the annual meeting of the Society on March 18, 2016.


Address specific questions about the contest to Mrs. Anne Ribble at  The following books may be useful in answering questions about book collecting:

  • John Carter. ABC for Book Collectors. 7th ed. revised by Nicolas Barker. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Books, 1995.
  • Jean Peters, ed. Book Collecting: A Modern Guide. New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1978.

Winners of the 2014 Book Collecting Contest


  • First place: Audrey Golden (Ph.D. program, Dept. of English) for “Pablo Neruda and the Global Politics of Poetry”
  • Second place:  Stephanie Kingsley (M.A. program, Dept. of English) for “A Collection of Early Editions of Mercedes of Castile, by James Fenimore Cooper”

Honorable Mention

  • Caitlin Conley (MA candidate, Dept of English) for “Collecting Stuart Little