Prize Guidelines

First Prize: $2,000
Second Prize: $1,000
Third Prize: $500

Entry Submission Deadline: January 31, 2023

This competition is open to all Stanford students enrolled in a full-time degree program and is nominally held at two-year intervals. Students must have personally assembled and own the collections which they enter in competition. Students who have competed previously may reenter, preferably with a different collection; reentry of a previously submitted collection will be considered only if it has been substantially expanded, and a new bibliography and essay are submitted.

The competition’s purpose is twofold. First, it celebrates student collections of books, manuscripts, ephemera, and other works of ink on paper. Second, it rewards up to three students for expressing the importance of their personal collections, based on the significance or appeal of their form or content.

Contestants are limited to one entry per competition of no more than fifty individual items, which may represent any subject and come from any time. Items may be books, periodicals, journals, manuscripts, musical scores, ephemera – broadsides, keepsakes, playbills, trade catalogs, etc. – or other works of ink on paper, of some cultural, literary, historical, or scientific significance. Collections consisting exclusively or primarily of artworks, photographs, coins, stamps, films, sound recordings, digital materials, etc. are excluded from this competition.

Contestants are required to submit a simple bibliography of their selection. Each item should be identified, to the extent known, by its author, title, place of publication, publisher, and date. Manuscripts, autograph letters, ephemera, etc., if submitted, should be identified, to the extent possible, by author, title, and date.

Contestants are also required to submit an essay of approximately 1,000-1,500 words that describes why their collection is noteworthy based on the importance or appeal of its form or content. Contestants are encouraged, as applicable, to describe their collection’s cultural, literary, historical, or scientific merit; the significance of its representation of graphic design, typography, or printing technique; the merit of its illustrations, binding, or cover art; and how it may celebrate a specific attribute of works on paper or the book arts. Examples of prior winning essays may be viewed on the Wreden Prize website. Essays and bibliographies should be submitted by e-mail as indicated below.

Contestants are further encouraged, as applicable, to tell why they chose to collect materials in a particular field; on how items in the collection may have inspired them to change their personal attitudes or ideology; and how and why they may elect to expand or alter the collection’s content or subject matter in the future.

A panel of judges, selected by the University Librarian, will evaluate entries. Judges will be selected from local Stanford and Bay Area book scholars, collectors, dealers, and librarians. Judging criteria will be based on the creativity, intelligence, and originality of collections and the thoughtfulness and inspirational qualities of the essays. The age, rarity, and monetary value of collections will not be determining factors in the judging process.

Contestants may be contacted by one or more judges, and may be asked to respond to specific questions about their collection, bibliography, and essay. Finalists may be asked to bring a few items from their collection to Stanford’s Green Library, and to participate in an informal discussion about them with one or more members of the judging panel.

Prizes will be awarded during spring quarter, 2023, at the discretion of the University Librarian. The Byra J. and William P. Wreden Memorial Fund, a Stanford Libraries endowed fund designated for this purpose, supports the prize. Winning student essays will be considered for publication by the Libraries. The top prizewinner may be eligible to compete in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest for an additional prize of up to $2,500.

All entries must be submitted no later than January 31, 2023 (deadline strictly upheld). Please direct all inquiries and entries to