By Shirley Skeel
TACOMA – Three students who assembled individual book collections about Batman, the phenomenon of death, and gender in crime fiction have won prizes in the 2013 Collins Memorial Library Book Collecting Contest.
Ian Fox ’14 took the $1,000 first prize for his collection “Hunting the Dark Night: Books on the Batman.” Andrew Osborne ’13 collected the $500 second prize for “Ars Moriendi: A Selection of Texts Concerning the Phenomenon of Death.” Ariana Scott-Zechlin ’13 was awarded the $250 third prize for “Genderization of Crime Fiction from the Victorian Era to the Modern Day.”
The fourth year of the University of Puget Sound book collecting awards, sponsored by the Book Club of Washington, attracted 14 strong entries, including the three winning collections—described by the judges as “truly remarkable.”
“This is my favorite day of the academic year,” said Jane Carlin, library director, at the April 18 awards ceremony. “I think of this as the Academy Awards for young book collectors.”
Fox’s winning collection will be entered in the prestigious National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, led by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, the Center for the Book,and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, with support from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. Alumnus Ian Fink ’10 won first prize in the 2010 national contest for his collection of 20th century propaganda. National winners receive a $2,500 award at a dinner and ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The 14 book collections consisted of up to 30 books or documents, a bibliography, an essay explaining how and why the student created his or her collection, and an annotated “wish list” of other titles the student would like to add to their collection.
Fox said his collection of books on Batman, including some first edition items, followed the evolving nature of the superhero, from his 1939 appearance in Detective Comics #27 as a caped detective to his modern Hollywood depiction as the powerful, vigilante Dark Knight.
“I contacted two of my favorite academic authors and scoured used bookstores,” Fox said. “They gave me tips on what to look for and about other authors and books. It’s what I’m most passionate about— the Batman.”
Osborne said he had been reading about how different cultures respond to death ever since his sister died of a rare disorder when he was in fourth grade. His collection explores death from multiple perspectives including cultural, religious, and philosophical.
Scott-Zechlin said that as a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, she had noticed how these Victorian era stories still shape our expectations today that crime fiction is largely written for and about white, upper-middle-class males.
“Given such ‘masculine’ crime fiction origins in ‘feminine’ sensation fiction, I was interested in exploring this myth we have created for ourselves of the solely male detective and questioning why it ever came about in the first place and what we can do to challenge it today,” she said.
The judges for the contest included Andrea Kueter, social sciences liaison librarian at Collins Memorial Library; Greg Perkins, a scientist and lifelong advocate of literature; and Mark Wessel, co-owner of Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers in Seattle. Book Club of Washington board members Pamela Harer and Claudia Skelton helped organize and shape the contest.