Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab American Book Prices Current Exhibition Catalogue Awards

About the Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab American Book Prices Current Exhibition Catalogue Awards These awards are given annually in recognition of excellence in the publication of catalogues and brochures that accompany exhibitions of library and archival materials, as well as for electronic exhibitions of such materials. They are administered by the Exhibition Awards Committee of the ALA/ACRL Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS), whose operating expenses are covered by a generous endowment from Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab, editors of American Book Prices Current.

Administered by:

Association of College and Research Libraries logo

Division Two (moderately expensive)

2017 Winner(s)

Mills College Center for the Book & Flying Fish Press

“Reading the Object: Three Decades of Books by Julie Chen"

“Reading the Object’ presents a comprehensive survey of Julie Chen’s artist books,” noted Johnston. “The committee was pleased with the inclusion of an essay by the artist herself in which she explains the concept of an artist’s book as a way to perceive and understand aesthetic ideas. By recording the artist’s account of her own work, ‘Reading the Object’ makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of Chen’s work and of artists’ books in general. The catalog also includes a catalogue of Chen’s artistic productions of over 30 years, and provides excellent photographs and descriptions of a variety of artists’ book formats. Diagrams and multiple images are used to convey the three-dimensionality, shape, color, and movement of Chen’s work, so as to document the experience of examining and using the books in person.”


2017 Honorable Mention(s)

University of Pennsylvania Libraries Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
for “Covered With Vines: The Many Talents of Ludwig Bemelmans”

“The committee felt that this catalog deserved an honorable mention,” remarked Johnston. “’Covered With Vines’ presents a comprehensive overview of the artistic work of Ludwig Bemelmans. Bemelmans is familiar to many for his work on the ‘Madeline’ series, but the full extent of his work is much less well-known. The committee was particularly impressed with how well the catalog gave comprehensive coverage to Bemelmans’ full career as a writer and artist, while still celebrating the ‘Madeline’ children’s books for which Bemelmans is so well-known, and which are so instantly recognizable to many children and adults alike.”


Division One (expensive)

2017 Winner(s)

University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

“So Long Lives This: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and Works 1616-2016”

“The committee praised ‘So Long Lives This’ for its outstanding scholarship on Shakespeare, his legacy, and the England of his day, all of which offer new insights on materials and topics that are frequently exhibited and discussed,” said Alexander C. Johnston, chair of the RBMS Exhibition Awards committee and senior assistant librarian at the University of Delaware. “The committee was impressed with the arrangement, format, and printing. The catalog includes a great variety of illustrative material spanning several centuries; the committee was especially impressed with the section on hand press printing, which includes illustrative examples of the printing process, as drawn from contemporary works. Finally, ‘So Long Lives This’ is printed to mimic the size of the same 1623 First Folio that was displayed in the actual exhibit, which creates an interesting tangible takeaway.”


Division Three (inexpensive)

2017 Winner(s)

Georgetown University’s Booth Family Center for Special Collections

for “Undiscovered Printmakers: Hidden Treasures at Georgetown University Library”

“’Undiscovered Printmakers’ is beautifully printed and illustrated,” stated Johnston. “The exhibit was created to reveal a ‘hidden’ collection and encourage research on six under-studied and little-known printmakers. This was a substantial catalog that provided excellent content. The committee felt that its coverage of the different types of prints created by these six artists would appeal not only to those interested in these particular artists, but to those interested in book illustration and printmaking techniques in general.”


Division Four (brochures)

2017 Winner(s)

Johns Hopkins University Special Collections

for “Lost & Found in the Funhouse: The John Barth Collection,” designed by Dave Plunkert of Spur Design, LLC

“The committee praised ‘Lost & Found in the Funhouse’ for its striking modern graphics and its interactive component,” Johnston said. “A separate leaf inserted in the brochure contains a map of the exhibit that allows the viewer to record his or her own path through the exhibit, answer questions about the experience of the exhibit, and create a Mobius strip – itself a central motif of the exhibit – using a pattern and instructions on the card. This was a brochure that not only provided intellectual content about the exhibit in a clear and thoughtful way but also emphasized the ‘fun’ aspect of the exhibit.”


Division Five (electronic exhibition)

2017 Winner(s)

University of Maryland Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives

for “Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz”

“The committee praised ‘Alice 150 Years and Counting’ for its interesting content and its creative design,” noted Johnston. “The committee particularly liked how the exhibit designers opted to show multiple views and page openings of the exhibit items, so as to give viewers a much more extensive view of the books in question than would have been possible in a physical exhibit. The committee also appreciated the inclusion of the print catalog as a downloadable PDF. Finally, the exhibit featured a page for additional news and events related to the exhibit, as well as a featured items blog, allowing for additional material and updates over the course of the exhibit.”