2018 RBMS Leab Exhibition Award winners

For Immediate Release
Mon, 04/16/2018


Chase Ollis

Program Officer



CHICAGO – The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) has selected five winners for the 2018 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 2018 RBMS Conference Booksellers’ Showcase in New Orleans, and certificates will be presented to each winner at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference.

The Division One (expensive) winner is Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library for “Gather Out of Star-Dust: A Harlem Renaissance Album,” curated by Melissa Barton, curator of drama and prose for the Yale Collection of American Literature at Yale University.

“This catalog presents strong informational content in a dynamic and fresh design,” said Alexander C. Johnston, chair of the RBMS Exhibition Awards Committee and associate librarian at the University of Delaware. “Written for a wide-ranging academic and general audience, it offers multiple perspectives on the Harlem Renaissance and captures connections between and among many different figures at this time. It includes high quality image reproductions and effective categorical groupings, which showcase a variety of types of collections and materials. The catalog’s size, layout, typography, and color capture the spirit of the time period and subject and make for an accessible and engaging read.”

The Division Two (moderately expensive) winner is the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library for “Struggle and Story: Canada in Print,” curated by Pearce J. Carefoote, interim head of rare books and special collections at the University of Toronto.

“This catalog is well-researched and presents thoughtfully framed topics,” noted Johnston. “Its attention to detail is evident in the in-depth catalog entries, as well as in the quality reproductions and nice design features. The committee was impressed that it included folded plates, so as to reproduce maps at a size suitable for reference. This catalog presents a beautiful production and presentation of a well-organized history and that history’s methods of documentation.”

The Division Three (inexpensive) winner is Georgetown University Library for “Margaret Bonds and Langston Hughes: A Musical Friendship,” curated by Anna Celenza, Thomas E. Caesteker Professor of Music at Georgetown University.

“This catalog was a very substantial giveaway with wide-ranging scholarly interest,” stated Johnston. “Given the prominence of Hughes, it provides an important introduction to another, largely unknown historical figure. Its continuous narrative structure successfully engages the audience alongside the catalog’s visual content. Many contextual ephemeral materials are represented in high-quality reproductions; such materials are not reproduced as often, nor are they as easily located and accessed, making this a valuable contribution to the field.”

The Division Four (brochures) winner is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library for “H.G. Wells: Time Traveler,” curated by Simon J. James, professor at Durham University, UK, and Caroline Szylowicz, associate professor and Kolb-Proust Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“This is a high-quality takeaway brochure that conveys a lot of information about the exhibit in a small amount of space,” Johnston said. “It successfully integrates text and image for an appealing visual display. Additionally, it provides a full checklist of items plus a curatorial outline of the exhibit in case one wants to revisit particular items once they have gone off of display.”

The Division Five (electronic exhibition) winner is the University of Alberta’s Bruce Peel Special Collections Library for “Tinctor’s Foul Treatise,” curated by Andrew Colin Gow, professor of history and director of religious studies; Robert B. Desjardins, independent scholar and graduate writing advisor; and François V. Pageau, doctoral candidate in medieval history, at the University of Alberta.

“This entry presented an effective use of the online exhibit to present a single object from multiple viewpoints, in such a way as would be impossible in a physical exhibit,” noted Johnston. “Its focus on this particular witchcraft treatise contributes to scholarship on the subject and history of late-medieval witchcraft and witch-hunts. Its creative use of Omeka templates makes for an easy-to-navigate and visually appealing digital exhibition. Significant features in the exhibit include links to the fully digitized manuscript and frequent embedded hyperlinks to additional, related external resources for further reading.”

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 10,500 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.