Calling all collectors!

Photos featuring various types of collections and information about the Elmer Adler Collecting Prize

Princeton University Library and the Friends of Princeton University Library (Friends) have recently updated the submission process for the annual Elmer Adler Book Prize, as well as prize amounts. 

The Elmer Adler Book Prize was endowed from the estate of Elmer Adler (1884-1962), who was a book and print collector, book designer, and founder of the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton as well as La Casa del Libro in Puerto Rico. His many years at Princeton were devoted to encouraging students’ interests in collecting and collections. 

The prize has been awarded for decades, and the criteria and submission process have not changed materially in all that time.

Traditionally, the prize was given only to undergraduates, but starting this year, graduate students will also be eligible to apply for the Adler Prize. In addition, an updated amount of $4,000 will be awarded to two winners - one undergraduate student and one graduate student.

Top prize: $4,000 Winners awarded in undergraduate and graduate divisions

The new application process will now be in two parts: finalists will be selected based on a brief written submission with an annotated bibliography; winners will be chosen following a virtual interview to discuss more about their collection and their approach to collecting. 

Eligible student collections may incorporate a vast array of formats and potential subject areas, provided they fall into print, manuscript, ephemera, or other categories of materials typically found in libraries. Past winning entries have included collections of miniature books, sheet music, photographs, and comic books. 

Judging criteria are focused on creativity and persistence in collecting rather than rarity, monetary value, or number of items. Submissions are judged in equal measure on the strength of the student-assembled collection and the quality of the writing.

Interested students should complete this online application form by Friday, February 16. 

Winners will receive their prizes at the annual meeting of the Friends on Sunday, April 21, 2024, which they are expected to attend.  

Read more information about the prize and view previous winners and essays here.

Published January 11, 2024.
Media contact: Stephanie Oster, Library Publicity Manager