Friends of the Library rewards students for unique book collections

The Student Book Collection Competition, which began four years ago, had 28 participants this year.

by Ed Swaray

When graduate student Eric Fuchs received a $700 check from Friends of the Library, he felt guilty about taking the money.

Though Fuchs – who won the Student Book Collection Competition on Wednesday evening – kept the check, he said he thought University libraries need the money more than he does.

He said he would spend the money bolstering his collection of more than 50 rhetoric and debate books from 19th and 20th century United States.

Fuchs and two other University students received rewards for their book collections Wednesday at the annual Friends of the Library meeting.

The library group is composed of students, alumni and community leaders who offer feedback for the University library programs and find outside money for the libraries.

Twenty-eight people participated in the competition this year, said Marcia Pankake, a University professor who launched the contest four years ago.

Contestants submitted a 1,500-word essay and compiled annotated bibliographies of at least 25 titles in their collections, Pankake said.

A panel of three judges – one each from Friends of the Library, faculty and library staff – determined the winners.

She said judges based their decision on the quality of the contestants’ essay and the sophistication of their bibliography.

Melanie Brown, an English graduate student, won second prize for her collection of Little Blue Books.

Ellen Arnold, also a graduate student, won $300 for her third-place finish.

Arnold said her collection -titled “Books on Nature and Nature on Books” – gives her the opportunity to look at various books and how they connect to nature.

Four other students received honorable mentions and $50 cash prizes, Pankake said.

Maxine Wallin, a University alumna and Friends of the Library member, funds most of the competition, Pankake said.

Pankake urged students to consider collecting books, saying it improves intellectual development, creates a community of readers and is fun.