For immediate release | March 5, 2012

2012 RBMS Leab Exhibition Award winners

CHICAGO – The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) has selected five winners for the 2012 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 exhibition catalogs issued by American or Canadian institutions in conjunction with library exhibitions, as well as electronic exhibition catalogs of outstanding merit issued within the digital/Web environment. Certificates will be presented to each winner at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, during the RBMS Membership Meeting and Information Exchange at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim.

The Division One (expensive) winner is “Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life,” submitted by the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“This elegant catalog reconstructs the diverse uses printed text and images in Renaissance life--from early popup books and tarot cards to printed textiles, astrolabes and collaged reliquaries,” states Molly Schwartzburg, chair of the RBMS Exhibition Awards committee and Cline Curator of Literature at the University of Texas-Austin’s Harry Ransom Center. “The result is a visually stunning volume that is also a valuable resource for scholars, librarians and curators who encounter these materials in their work. A truly interdisciplinary study, the volume cogently describes a vast range of materials in a manner that is clear and engaging.”

The Division Two (moderately expensive) winner is the University of Chicago Library for “Adventures in the Soviet Imaginary: Children's Books and Graphic Art.”

“This striking catalog is result of collaboration between students, faculty and librarians at the University of Chicago,” said Schwartzburg. “Despite its brevity, it presents its complex, wide-ranging subject thoroughly and clearly, bringing together the voices of its many authors into a fluid, engaging volume. Its accessible style, balanced page layouts, high-quality reproductions and well-organized checklist are just some of the features that make this an exceptional catalog.”

The Division Three (inexpensive) winner is “One Book, Many Interpretations: Second Edition,” submitted by the Chicago Public Library, Special Collections and Preservation Division.

“This small volume marks the first decade of an annual competition for the design of artists' bindings for books in the One Book, One Chicago city-wide reading project,” Schwartzburg remarked. “Documenting an exhibition of the best of these bindings, this diminutive volume is surprisingly rich in images and information, serving at once as an introduction to contemporary trends in artists' bindings and a survey of the city reading project. The committee was particularly impressed by the way in which the catalog reveals a dialog between the coterie field of fine binding and a citywide initiative.”

The Division Four (brochures) winner is the University of Pennsylvania, Rare Book and Manuscript Library for their brochure entitled “Wharton Esherick and the Birth of the American Modern.”

“This is a beautifully executed guide to this large, multi-venue exhibition,” noted Schwartzburg. “Perfectly sized to fit in a pocket or bag, it provides a clear, concise overview of the exhibition galleries and schedule of events. Its high production quality--striking cover design, lovely paper, clear printing and high-quality images--leads to the ideal result for a brochure: it makes the reader want to make her way to every venue and event listed.”

The Division Five (electronic exhibition) winner is the Folger Shakespeare Library for “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible,” available online at

“With contributions from several scholars and the staff of three major libraries--the Folger, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas--this project achieves an appropriate scale for its epic subject matter,” stated Schwartzburg. “It provides a great deal of information, but succeeds in doing so without overwhelming its potential audiences. The committee was impressed with the rich content and with the sheer range of access points for audiences to begin thinking about the King James Bible: along with a great deal of traditional ‘exhibition catalog’ content, the site includes a blog, videos, childrens' activities center, timeline and more.”

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


ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 12,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments. ACRL is on the Web at, Facebook at and Twitter at @ala_acrl.


David Free