The Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries is sponsoring a book collecting competition for undergraduate and graduate students. This competition has been held each year for two decades, though in recent years the award has been given biannually. The competition’s goal is to increase interest in book collecting among students.

According to Executive Committee Member of the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries Hal Kanthor ‘66MD, approximately 18 to 20 people enter each year. The winner this year will receive over $1,000 in cash and gift cards from local booksellers, as well as the opportunity to exhibit part of their collection in Rush Rhees in the coming year.

A book collection can be based around anything, including author, subject matter or style. Previous entries have included the collections “Esperanto and World Literature,” “Contemporary Turkish Art,” “Understanding Girls Manga: Past to Present, There to Here” and “Frankenstein.” It should be noted that a collection is not judged on the rarity of the books or their monetary value; instead, judges are interested in the collection’s meaningfulness to the student and how well it fulfills the student’s stated goals for the collection.

Kanthor is an avid collector of both books and memorabilia related to Gilbert and Sullivan. Though he began as a book collector, he “branched out to include manuscripts and all sorts of more ephemeral objects such as posters, photographs and advertising material.” Last fall, he donated a large number of posters to the River Campus Libraries as part of “The Play’s the Thing,” an exhibition related to nineteenth century British and American theatre. When it comes to book collecting, his advice is to “find a theme that you really are interested in, however insignificant it might appear to be, and gradually increase your focus so that you understand the area and where you want to go with it.”

The book collection award is just one of many projects led by the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries. They provide grants for all libraries associated with UR, including those at the Eastman School of Music, the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the Memorial Art Gallery. They are also responsible for other library events, such as the Scare Fair, which happens every Halloween, and the holiday reading which happens every December.

Collections don’t have to be extensive. They typically start at around 20 books and can be supplemented by other material, though books should make up the majority of the collection. Entry forms can be downloaded on the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries website. An entry consists of a short essay and a partially-annotated bibliography of the collection. Submissions are due by March 6, 2016.

Curtis is a member of 

the class of 2017.

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