The Friends of the Princeton University Library are pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize. The $2,000 first prize goes to Jac Mullen, Class of 2010, for his essay, “A Zealous Declaration,” in which he reveals his passion for the great novels of the twentieth century, “those works of linguistic robustness and playfulness, the brashly experimental, fiercely prophetic works of Weltliteratur.” The Adler award also put Mullen in touch with some family history. “When I told my grandfather I’d won,” Mullen said, “he gave me a copy of a very old issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle [which] featured a bibliography of works collected by my great-grandfather, Gilbert Chinard, who was a professor of French literature here at Princeton in the 1930s and 1940s. More to the point, however, the issue was introduced by an essay my great-grandfather wrote about—of all things—book collecting!”
The second place prize of $1,500 is presented to Emily Rutherford, Class of 2012, for her essay, “The Beat Generation: A Book Collection for My Generation.” When Rutherford first read Allen Ginsberg’s famous line “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked …,” she was hooked, and she began to acquire and read everything she could by and about Ginsberg and his contemporaries. She now lives with that first page of Howl affixed to the wall over her desk. The lines, she writes, “never, ever fail to comfort and inspire me.”
The Friends awarded the $1,000 third prize to Cindy Hong, Class of 2009, for her essay, “Dipping into Life: Collecting Letters of Modernist Writers.” The key to her favorite authors, she discovered, was in their personal correspondence. “No matter what happens to the future of letters,” writes Hong, these published collections will “provide contemporary readers with a glimpse into the lives of favorite modern writers.”
Each winner will receive a certificate from the Dean of the College and a new book chosen specifically for her/his collection, donated by Princeton University Press. Jac Mullen’s first prize essay will be published in the Princeton University Library Chronicle and will also be submitted to the National Undergraduate Book Collecting competition sponsored by Fine Books & Collections magazine.
The Friends of the Princeton University Library play a vital role in supporting the acquisitions and operations of the Library. All members of the community who have an interest in books, libraries, manuscripts, and the graphic arts are welcome to join. For further information on the Friends, please contact Linda Oliveira at 609-258-3155.