Cornellians Win Top Honors in National Book-Collecting Contest
Contact: Chris Philipp, 4-7286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: August 23, 2006
Two Cornellians garnered top honors in the first ever Collegiate Book-Collecting Championship, a national competition sponsored by Fine Books & Collections magazine.
Daniel McKee and David Rando, who tied for First Prize in the Graduate student division of the 2006 Cornell University Library and Library Advisory Council Book Collection Contest, placed first and third, respectively, in the national contest. They competed against 44 other book contest prize winners from 30 universities.
“What a thrill,” said McKee, who will earn his doctorate in Japanese Literature and is now the curator for the Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute, a California museum devoted to the arts of Japan. “Frankly, I never suspected that I had a chance at the national level.”
Titled “Educational Books from Japan’s Meiji Period (1868-1912),” McKee’s collection focuses on richly illustrated textbooks from the late 19th century, which were used to educate Japanese youth. The Meiji Period revolutionized Japan’s public policy as the political and intellectual elite sought to catch up to the West by creating the nation’s first-ever public education system.
Rando’s collection, titled “The Books at the Wake,” includes more than 50 vintage reference books for James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Some of its highlights are a hand-made edition of Finnegans Wake by Rando and essential reference works from the 1960s and 1970s.
“I have always been drawn to books as physical items, but the impetus for this particular collection was primarily interpretive and only secondarily material, said Rando, who earned his doctorate in English and is working as an assistant professor of English at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. “I was forced to keep company with these assorted, unsorted, and often sordid Finnegans Wake books in order to help make sense of Finnegans Wake itself.”
As the first-place winner, McKee won a cash prize of $2,500 and a one-year membership to the Grolier Club, America’s largest and oldest society for bibliophiles. Rando received $500. In addition, a $1,000 donation will be made to Cornell University Library in McKee’s name and Rando will have a $250 donation made in his. Both were also awarded trips to New York City for the September awards ceremony.
“Both were excellent,” said Lance Heidig, the coordinator of Cornell’s contest and a Reference and Instruction Librarian in the Library’s Department of Collections, Reference, Instruction and Outreach. “Their essays, bibliographies, and collections demonstrated personal passions for books and learning. They were clearly the best out of a number of outstanding and interesting entries in this year’s competition.”
Introduced in 2003, Cornell’s Book Collection Contest continues the tradition of theArthur H. Dean and Mary Marden Dean Book Collection Contest, which was held in Uris Library for undergraduate students from 1966 to 1987. This was the first year entries were accepted from graduate students. The competition provides Cornell students with the opportunity to display their aptitude in assembling and organizing book collections and to articulate their interest in reading and collecting books.
For details about the national competition, its rules and contestants, please see http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/contest/index.html. For more information about Cornell’s book collection content, visit http://www.library.cornell.edu/bookcontest/.