2014 RBMS Leab Exhibition Award winners

For Immediate Release
Fri, 03/07/2014

Contact:

Chase Ollis
Program Coordinator
Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)
collis@ala.org

CHICAGO — The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) has selected five winners and two honorable mentions for the 2014 Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab “American Book Prices Current” Exhibition Awards.

The awards, funded by an endowment established by Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab, editors of “American Book Prices Current,” recognize outstanding printed exhibition catalogs and guides, and electronic exhibitions, produced by North America and Caribbean institutions. Certificates will be presented to each winner at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 29, 2014, at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

The Division One (expensive) winner is the Bruce Peel Collections Library at the University of Alberta for “All Under Heaven: The Chinese World in Maps, Pictures, and Texts from the Collection of Floyd Sully.”

“Dealing with a highly original topic, this catalog showcases original materials rarely seen in a library and museum setting: 16th to 18th century Chinese manuscripts, and hand-colored woodblock prints,” said Cherry Williams, chair of the RBMS Exhibition Awards committee and curator of manuscripts at Indiana University. “Its rich information content, with extensive, well-written notes composed by curator Walter Davis, professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta, has intellectual depth and constitutes a contribution to scholarship on the subject of early Chinese history and culture. In addition, the curators narrowed the choices well, resulting in a spectacular choice of items; each item is unusual, visually interesting and stunning in appearance.”

The Division One (expensive) honorable mention is the American Antiquarian Society for “In Pursuit of a Vision: Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society.

“This beautifully produced volume articulates the clear vision of a bicentennial exhibition which ‘traces the development of the Society’s collections through the exemplary generosity of some of the committed donors who have embraced Isiah Thomas’s ambitious vision over the ensuing two centuries,’” Williams stated. “The volume is exemplary in its coherency, including the choice of the grey, blue and black marbled end papers, which originally graced the inside of Isiah Thomas’s 'The History of Printing in America,' published in 1810 by John Roulstone; the inclusion of a full hand list for the exhibition and an annotated list of references. The catalog documents an insightful choice of items to be showcased in the exhibition, with the brief but scholarly descriptions of each entry and the excellently photographed objects well-laid out on the page. In addition, the generous use of white space makes the catalog easy to use and to reference.”

The Division Two (moderately expensive) winner is the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M University for “Deeper than Swords: Celebrating the Work of George R. R. Martin.”

“Written with personality, excitement and love, this strong catalog emphasizes Martin’s work in the broader literary context and is clearly intended to live on past the exhibition,” noted Williams. “Addressing many different facets of Martin’s work – the author, the work, the genre – one of its greatest strengths is its appeal to diverse communities of audiences including preteens, teenagers, and adults. The text reflects an interesting blend of voices with both the scholar’s and the writer’s providing the original contribution to the scholarship on George R. R. Martin. An additional strength of both the physical exhibition and the catalog is the information included about the illustrator. Finally is the contribution of Martin’s work to popular culture – the HBO series 'Games of Thrones' is based on these materials.”

The Division Two (moderately expensive) honorable mention is the Special Collections Library at Vassar College for “Shirley Jones and the Red Hen Press.”

“This catalog constitutes a descriptive bibliography of the books, with full collations, transcriptions and a colophon, of the Red Hen Press published on its 30th anniversary,” said Williams. “Also included is a note on each book written by Shirley Jones, as well as frontispiece photographs of the artist at work – as a young woman and now. Attractively designed, the catalog gives the reader the feeling of a fine press artist’s book, featuring colorful full-page mezzotint prints from books printed by Shirley Jones. The illustrations, with their rich, bright colors, make the catalog particularly engaging.”

The Division Three (inexpensive) winner is The Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University for “Dancing on a Sunny Plain: The Life of Annie Burr Auchincloss Lewis.”

“The charming design and look of this catalog is a lovely example of a donor tribute catalog – Anne Burr Lewis was the wife of a major Yale figure and donor to the Walpole Library, Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis,” remarked Williams. “Perfectly appropriate to the subject, the small, rectangular booklet format holds nicely in the hand with an intimate feel to it while reflecting the gentle personality of its subject. The excellent choice of typefaces makes the catalog very readable and attractive, with a good use of white space. Evocative of the 1920’s when Anne Burr Lewis was a young woman, the reproductions of watercolors are visually beautiful while the use of color and design sense is evident on every page.”

The Division Four (brochures) winner is The Rare Books & Manuscripts Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for “Marcel Proust: Writing Without End.”

“Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of 'Du côté de chez Swann' ('Swann’s Way'), this visually striking brochure demonstrates a high quality of production with nicely chosen photos and manuscript illustrations and good use of color,” stated Williams. “In addition, illustrated with striking portrait of Proust, it makes interesting use of font/typography and scores high marks for its intellectual content. The brochure also contains an entire checklist of the exhibition items on the rear panel.”

The Division Five (electronic exhibition) winner is the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University for “Sugar and Visual Imagination in the Atlantic World, circa 1600-1850.”

“This electronic exhibition engages the viewer with its subject matter, sugar, and with its pure visual beauty,” noted Williams. “Offering something different, it feels like an online exhibition and not a mere representation of a physical exhibit. Technically very well done, its navigation is excellent: it is easy to move about within the exhibition; images open quickly and expand nicely, revealing clear, sharp images. Visually beautiful, the images have been chosen with great care and with a tasteful, evocative use of color. In addition, the use of ‘subtitles’ (in red italic font) add an extra layer of curation. Combined with the very well written, interesting and knowledgeable text content, this is an aesthetically pleasing and informative exhibition.”

For more information regarding the ACRL RBMS Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab “American Book Prices Current” Exhibition Awards, including a complete list of past recipients, please visit the awards section of the ACRL website.

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