Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 UCLA Campbell Book Collecting Award Winners Announced

by Stephen J. Gertz

The winners of the 63d Annual Robert B, and Blanche Campbell Student Book Collection Competition were announced and rewarded on Wednesday April 20, 2011 during a ceremony, reception, and exhibition of the winners' collections.

Finalists were invited to bring their collections to the library for the final round of judging. Of the  finalist collections, thirteen were selected to receive awards.

Each application for entry in the competition consists of a one-page essay describing the student’s collection, an annotated bibliography of the collection, and an annotated “wish list.”

And the winners are:

Library Staff Association Prize of $100
Sponsored by the UCLA Library Staff Association.  3 prizes awarded

Ryan Roberts
It’s Greek Indeed: Understanding the Greek Bible

Judges’ comments:
With this year’s award, Ryan is now a three time Campbell Competition winner! Ryan writes that he has had a long fascination with ancient languages and religious texts. His collection focuses on the study of biblical Greek in order to understand the origins of Judeo-Christi

Alexandra Milsom
The Grand Tour

Judges' comments:
The books in this collection document the history of tourism and the romance of travel, with particular focus on “The Grand Tour.” They provide a glimpse into an era when travel was arduous and costly and the experience of travel really did include the journey itself in a way that would be hard to comprehend in our contemporary jet age. The judges wish Alex success in her quest to find her ur-text: Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

Gennady Erlikhman
Cognitive Science with an Emphasis on the Philosophy of Perception

Judges' comments:
This collection closely followed his development from a child fascinated with visual illusions to an adult thinker and researcher.

Corine Tyler Walker Prize of $150
Sponsored by Dr. Bruce M. Tyler

Emily Cole
The Language of the Pharaohs

Judges' comments:
This collection is more than a scholar’s reference library; it is a carefully curated collection that includes items of clear sentimental value – for example, the unpublished grammar from which she first learned ancient Egyptian

Special University Librarian’s Prize of $200
Sponsored by the University Librarian’s Discretionary Fund

Jesse Erickson
Collecting Sentimental: A Life for the Love of Books

Judges’ comments:
As Jesse writes, he seems to have been born with the “gentle madness” of the bibliophile.  His eloquent essay about his “affection for ‘dusty, low-lit, old-fashioned’ bookstores and his appreciation for ‘books about books’ in ‘a rapidly digitizing world’”

Special Undergraduate Prize of $500
Sponsored by the Southern California Chapter, Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America

Kelly Ryan
Personal Inscriptions, Artifacts, and Topics from the 19th Century

Judges' comments:
The judges were charmed by Kelly’s somewhat unconventional approach to book collecting – her quest for 19th century works inscribed by previous owners – as well as her musings on the lives of those early owners of her books. Truly, the lives of others live on in her collection.

Special Graduate Prize of $500 
Sponsored by the Southern California Chapter, Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America

Mark Gallagher
The Poetry of New England

Judges' comments: his collection aims to “represent the Historical development of New England Poetry from its Puritan roots up through the present day.” The judges noted that his essay reveals not only his appreciation for the literary tradition of his beloved New England, but also his admiration for the bookmaking technologies of the Victorian age.

Frieda Kuiper Beaudin Prize for Outstanding Collection in the Sciences.  $500
Sponsored by Dr. Christy Beaudin and Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Kuiper

Robert Ian Barr
Descent with Modification: A Survey of 20th Century Evolutionary Biology

Judges’ comments:
In Ian’s brief but very well-written essay, the Judges especially appreciated the account of his personal journey of growing up in a household where the idea of evolutionary biology was a “somewhat taboo” subject, to his current status as a Ph. D. candidate in Biological Chemistry. The collection’s general theme, “Descent with Modification,” is witty but also describes his openness to change. As he noted in the well-annotated bibliography, Ian is very particular about his books both as to significance and as to condition. He tries to treat each book he owns as if it were “the last extant copy.”

Blanche Campbell Outstanding Children’s Book Collection Prize of $500
Sponsored by Clarice Campbell Olcott

Regan Bardeen
Storybook Africa: The Continent in Children’s Literature

Judges’ comments:
Regan’s collection emerges from both personal and academic interests.  Her childhood love of classic children’s literature and book illustration has broadened to her interest in and advocacy of African children’s literature. Browsing this collection is itself a cultural and intellectual education in the children’s literature of Africa.

Second Prize for Undergraduate Students. $300
Sponsored by the late Robert B. and Blanche Campbell
Donors to the Campbell Competition Endowment

Amanda Hale
Nonsense, Adventure, and Mayhem: Unique Creatures and Animal Characters

Judges’ comments:
Fascinated by illustration and Inspired by Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss, Amanda fulfilled her childhood dream of  becoming a children’s book author and illustrator with the 2005 publication of Don’t Read This If You’re Under 18, a book she wrote and illustrated in China. 

First Prize for Undergraduate Students.  $500
Sponsored by the late Robert B. and Blanche Campbell
Donors to the Campbell Competition Endowment

Ginger Buswell
Bibliophilic Beginnings

Judges’ comments:
Ginger’s collection is deeply personal. The judges were impressed with the high quality of her  writing in her essay and annotations, which were both outstanding. Her collection is a particularly interesting mix of the classics and the unexpected. Finally, Ginger’s  enthusiasm for her topic is contagious; she is a born teacher and has taken up the challenge of improving declining literacy rates through her work with UCLA’s Project Literacy. Her childhood enthusiasm is now inspiring other children to love reading. 

Second Prize for Undergraduate Students.  $300
Sponsored by the late Robert B. and Blanche Campbell
Donors to the Campbell Competition Endowment

Dahlia Setiyawan
The Art of True Crime

Judges’ comments:
In her essay Dahlia writes of the photographic and written accounts of crime and crime scenes that she collects: "Though often depicting scenes that are tragic, horrifying, ironic, or simply sad, many nonetheless evidence a strange magnificence, even allure." The judges noted the uncomfortable familiarity of this contradictory reaction to tragic events and observed that Dahlia’s collection is itself an investigation into our fascination with  staring into the abyss. 

First Prize for Graduate Students.  $500
Sponsored by the late Robert B. and Blanche Campbell
Donors to the Campbell Competition Endowment

Devin McCutchen
Imagined California: a Pastiche of Places

Judges’ comments:
Devin has amassed an impressive collection of important titles in a broad range of subjects that bring the history of California to vivid life. The historic scope of his collection is demonstrated by the presence of original editions and facsimiles. The collection is both significant and personal, as his essay reveals.  Devin  writes that his expanding academic interests helped him  bridge a Northern California/Southern California regional identity divide. Devin is a true bibliophile who has cataloged his collection and annotated his bibliography with impressive attention to detail.

A remarkable group of student collectors, indeed, who conclusively demonstrated that the interest in books and book collecting is limited only by one's imagination and curiosity. And that collecting books is not just about collecting authors but collecting around an idea and letting the idea guide you to new vistas and ways of thinking.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

The Campbell competition was established after World War II, and it is one of the oldest student book collecting competitions in the country. It began with the generosity of Blanche and Robert Campbell, who opened a shop across the street from the original UCLA campus in 1924, and followed the university in 1929 when it moved to Westwood Village, on Los Angeles’ Westside. Campbell’s Bookshop, which this author knew well and cherished as part the independent book store tradition, closed in 1979, after fifty years as a cultural anchor in Westwood.

In addition to the generosity of individuals, the annual UCLA Campbell Book Collecting Competition is supported by the Southern California chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, and the UCLA Library Staff Association, a voluntary membership group made up of Library staff members.

Student book collecting competitions are declining at universities across the country; they are considered expendable when budgets need to be trimmed. That is unfortunate. Student book collectors are the torchbearers for the hobby into the future. More than that, their passion for books is crucial to continue to tell the story of books past, what the story of the book is to a new generation in the now, and what direction the story of the book will take into the future.

My thanks to University Librarian Gary Strong; Tom Hyry, Director of Special Collections; Lucinda Newsome, Head, Administrative Services and Acquisitions, Department of Special Collections; and to all at the UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library for their assistance.

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