Book Collecting Contest

CWRU Students who have built a collection of 10-50 books based on a theme are encouraged to enter a book collecting contest sponsored by Kelvin Smith Library (KSL). Winners are eligible to participate in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Cash prizes for the top three collections will be awarded, including a $700 first prize for an undergraduate and graduate winner! 

The Kelvin Smith Library contest is part of the larger national contest. See the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest website for more details about the contest and links to contests at other institutions.

The Northern Ohio Bibliophilic Society (NOBS) is a co-sponsor of this event, offering a one-year membership in NOBS and a Loganberry Bookstore gift certificate to the two 1st place winners.

Congratulations to the 2024 KSL Book Collecting Contest Winners!

Check back in spring of 2025 for timelines and details for entering the next contest and explore contest guidelines below.


“A collection should reflect a clearly defined unifying theme or interest. It may incorporate ephemera, maps, prints, autograph material as well as books, either hardcover or paperback, as long as they are germane to the collection's focus.  How well a collection reflects the collector's intent is more significant than either the number of items or the monetary value of the collection.”  -National Collegiate Book Collection Contest Rules and Submission Materials

  • Theme: This is the most important element of the collection. The books should relate to one another in some way, which could be based on the subject, author or illustrator, geography, physical aspects of the book, or some combination of those elements. Here are just a few examples of potential themes: Cuban poetry, illustrated children’s books, computer software manuals, zines produced in Cleveland, romance novels, books by William Faulkner, underground comix.
  • Number of books: Between 10 and 50. We welcome smaller collections in this contest! Even if you have a larger collection, please select no more than 50 books for this contest.
  • Ownership: You must own the books submitted as part of this contest. You can also include a “want list” of books you would like to add in the future.
  • Type of books: We define “book” loosely in this contest. Your collection could consist of cheap paperbacks, magazines, pamphlets, comic books, leather-bound encyclopedias, or any other bound paper media. It cannot consist of other media such as audio or video recordings. The books you select certainly do not need to be rare or expensive. The most important thing is that they relate to your theme.
  • Judging Criteria: We will judge submissions based on originality, coherence of the collection, and quality of the essay and annotated bibliography.
  • Eligibility: All students of CWRU (graduate and undergraduate) are eligible for the contest. If you were a winner in our contest previously, you are not eligible to participate this year. All winners are eligible to participate in The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest.