March 7, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 11

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    Fourth-years, second-years to be awarded for pages they’ve collected with great care

    By Carrie Golus
    News Office

    Patrick Earnest (A.B., ’01), a staff member of the University’s Networking Services & Information Technology unit, won last year’s Brooker Prize competition among fourth years for his collection titled “Suicidal Writers and Their Works.”

    A passion for collecting books will pay off for the two winners of the Brooker Prize for undergraduate book collecting.

    The prize, established in 1990 by T. Kimball Brooker (A.M., ’89, Ph.D., ’96), is intended to “foster a love of the book and to encourage book collecting among undergraduates.” The competition is open to fourth-year College students, who can win a $1,000 prize, and second-year students, who can win $500.

    A collection’s size or monetary value is not important. Instead, winners are chosen based on the care and judgment shown in shaping their collections.

    But what defines a collection? According to the competition rules, collections may center on a subject, theme, author, a group of authors or even physical features such as editions, illustrations or bindings. Collections of musical scores, printed maps and other printed materials also are eligible.

    In her annual information session for the Brooker Prize, Alice Schreyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center, who chairs the judging panel, described the difference between accumulation and collection.

    The latter “has a guiding principle that the collector uses to select and shape his or her collection.” She further observed that whether intellectual or aesthetic, a collection’s focus typically resonates very personally with its collector.

    Winning collections have ranged from “Hoosier Notables: 1880 to 1930” to “The Epistemology of Meaning and Communication” to “U.S. Highways” to “Catholic Literature with a Special Emphasis on English Converts.”

    This year’s judging panel includes Patrick Earnest (A.B., ’01), who won the 2001 fourth-year competition for the collection “Suicidal Writers and Their Works.” The panel is rounded out by several faculty members and librarians, including Martha Feldman, Associate Professor in Music; Larry Norman, Assistant Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures; Katie Trumpener, Associate Professor in Germanic Studies; Maureen Lasko, Bibliographer for Art and Cinema; and Schreyer.

    In last year’s winning essay, Earnest described his fascination with books by suicidal authors: “They give us insights into the human condition,” he wrote. “Suicidal writers often treat us to skewed perspectives, where everything is out of place in the world, and only in the act of writing does the funhouse mirror cease to distort the perspective.”

    Earnest’s collection included several books by Japanese authors Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima, as well as reference books and writings by well-known Western authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf.

    Interested students can find more information and an application form at www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/gifts/brooker. Applications are due at the University Library Office, Room 180, Regenstein Library, by Tuesday, April 2.