2017 RBMS Leab Exhibition Award winners

For Immediate Release
Wed, 04/12/2017


Chase Ollis

Program Officer



CHICAGO – The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) has selected five winners and one honorable mention for the 2017 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 American and Caribbean institutions. The winning catalogs will be on display at the 2017 RBMS Conference Booksellers’ Showcase in Iowa City, Iowa, and certificates will be presented to each winner at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The Division One (expensive) winner is the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library for “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.”

The Division Two (moderately expensive) winner is the Mills College Center for the Book & Flying Fish Press for “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.”

The Division Two (moderately expensive) honorable mention is the 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.”

The Division Three (inexpensive) winner is 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.”

The Division Four (brochures) winner is 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.”

The Division Five (electronic exhibition) winner is the 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.”

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


The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing nearly 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the web at acrl.org, Facebook at facebook.com/ala.acrl and Twitter at @ala_acrl.