All VCU students, undergraduate and graduate, are invited to submit to the VCU Student Book-collecting Contest, which recognizes students who have developed thoughtful and purposeful collections of books, manuscripts or other material textual works.

A panel of judges will select one undergraduate and one graduate winner. Judging will be based upon how well the collection has been developed, how well it is justified and how significant or unique it is (monetary value or rarity of the items in the collection is irrelevant).The winner of the undergraduate award will receive a $200 cash prize, and the winner of the graduate award will receive a $300 cash prize, courtesy of Black Swan Books and the Friends of VCU Libraries. In addition, selections from both collections may be put on temporary display at Cabell Library.

Submissions to the contest must include:

  1. A cover sheet
    • Include your name and email address.
    • Specify undergraduate or graduate.
    • Give your collection a title.
  2. A brief essay (two pages) describing the nature, scope and rationale of the collection
  3. An annotated bibliography of no more than 15 items from the collection
    • Each entry in the bibliography must use MLA format in describing the item, followed by three to five sentences explaining the significance of the item to the collection.

Submissions (cover sheet, essay and bibliography saved in one PDF) must be sent to by Friday, Dec. 6. Winners will be announced in early 2020 and will be required to photograph a selection from their collection for a digital exhibit.

Incomplete or late submissions will be disqualified.

Judging Panel: Gardner Campbell, Ph.D. (associate professor, VCU English), Nicholas Cooke (owner, Black Swan Books), Joshua Eckhardt, Ph.D. (associate professor, VCU English), Kevin Farley, Ph.D. (humanities collections librarian, VCU Libraries), Yuki Hibben (assistant head and curator of books and art, VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives), Matteo Pangallo, Ph.D. (assistant professor, VCU English), and Mimi Winick, Ph.D. (instructor, VCU English).

Organized by VCU Department of English faculty member Matteo Pangallo, Ph.D., one of whose specialties is the history of the book, the contest debuted in the 2017–18 academic year. Jessica Schuler won in the undergraduate category for “Written in the Margins,” a collection of Shakespeare’s works with heavy written annotations. And Francesca Lyn won in the graduate category for “Autobiographical Comics,” a collection of autobiographical comics from independent and small presses.

The contest is sponsored by the VCU Department of English, VCU Libraries, the Friends of VCU Libraries and Black Swan Books.

Categories Friends of VCU Libraries, Students