Webster Book Prize

The Webster prize was endowed by Jerome P. Webster (Class of 1910) in the late 1950s, and is one of the oldest collegiate book collecting prizes in the country. The winner of this prize will receive $500 and is automatically eligible to enter the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, in which contestants can win up to $2,500, and the sponsoring library up to $1,000.

You may be asking, “Does my shelf/case/room of books qualify as a collection?”

For our purposes, a qualifying book collection is a group of items which have been acquired (not inherited) upon a specific unifying principle, rather than a mere “assemblage” of books. For instance, “children’s books” is not a collection, but books for children by a certain author, or illustrated by a certain artist, or in a certain genre, is a collection. Similarly, one cannot collect “history,” but one can form a collection of Russian history, or Labor history in Ohio, or the history of art in Spain. Your collection can be about the physical object (binding, illustration, edition) as well, as long as the unifying principle is clear.

It is NOT about how much you paid for your books, how “valuable” they are, or how many you have. For our purposes you must have at least ten (10) items (which can include books, pamphlets, offprints, and other printed ephemera), but winning collections over the years have averaged over 30 items.

To enter, you need to submit the following:

  • An annotated (1 or 2 sentences per entry, describing why the item is included) bibliography of your entire collection, in MLA or Chicago Manual of Style format.
  • A brief essay (1,000–2,000 words) explaining your collecting focus, how you began to collect, and your plans for its future growth.
  • 5–10 (no more than 10) items from your collection (bring or ship to the Watkinson Library)

Submissions are due April 1

First prize is $500.

Questions and submissions should be directed to the Watkinson Library (860-297-2268) in the Raether Library & IT Center.