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Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

Throwback Thursday: Snyder Book Collecting Contest Edition, Part III

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

So what is this group (semi-)smiling about? The Snyder Book Collecting Contest, of course! In case you can’t tell by the hair and the clothes, the year was 1973, but you don’t have to travel back in time to join in the book-related fun because the 64th Annual Snyder Book Collecting Contest is now open and accepting entries. KU undergrads and grad students, scan your shelves and submit your collections by March 22, 2020, 11:59 p.m. to win cash prizes as well as a gift card from contest co-sponsor Jayhawk Ink!

Photograph of judges and contestants at the 1973 Snyder Book Collecting Contest
Judges and contestants at the 1973 Snyder Book Collecting Contest, including contest founder and sponsor, Elizabeth Morrison Snyder (seated, left). University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 32/40 1973: University of Kansas Libraries: Book Contests (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

The contest offers the following awards in both Graduate and Undergraduate divisions:

  • First Prize: $500
  • Second Prize: $350
  • Honorable Mention: $100

Each winner will also receive a gift card in the following amounts from contest co-sponsor Jayhawk Ink, a division of KU Bookstore:

  • First Prize: $100
  • Second Prize: $50
  • Honorable Mention: $25

The first place winners in each division are eligible for the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, which awards a top prize of $2,500.

In fact, the student representative on this year’s judging panel, History graduate student Paul T. Schwennesen, first won the graduate division of the 2018 Snyder Book Collecting Contest with his collection “Borderlands — A Manifesto on Overlap,” and then went on to take second place at the national contest in Washington, DC. Since 2014, KU students have won prizes at the national level three (!) times.

The speaker for this year’s awards ceremony on April 14 is also a Snyder Contest alumnus: Danny Caine. Since placing second in the graduate division of the 2016 Snyder competition, Danny has made a life in books. Not only is he a poet whose books include Continental Breakfast (2019) and El Dorado Freddy’s (with Tara Wray, 2020), but he owns and runs Lawrence’s Raven Book Store. In 2019, he was selected as the Midwest Bookseller of the Year.

Danny Caine with his collection "Rust Belt Splendor: Hustle, Music, and Identity in the Post-Industrial Midwest" at the 2016 Snyder Book Collecting Contest
Bonus throwback to the not-so-distant past: Danny Caine with his collection “Rust Belt Splendor: Hustle, Music, and Identity in the Post-Industrial Midwest,” which placed second in the Graduate Division of the 2016 Snyder Book Collecting Contest. Image courtesy of KU Libraries. For an album of images from the 2016 competition, click here!

To learn more about the Snyder Book Collecting Contest and how to enter, please visit the contest page on the KU Libraries website. There you will find the contest rules, a handy FAQ, as well as selected essays, bibliographies, and a sample collection to help you on your way.

Whether the subject of your collecting passion is Writings from the Black Revolution, Susan Sontag, Contemporary Theatre of the Southern Cone, or Vintage Textbooks of the Natural and Physical Sciences, start thinking (and writing!) about your collection. Contest entries are due by 11:59pm on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

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