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Elmer Adler Book Collecting Prize: Home

Currently enrolled Princeton undergraduate and graduate students may apply.

Submit your personal collection for a chance to win the Adler Book Collecting Prize!

Now Accepting Submissions for 2024! 

Do you collect books, zines, maps, menus, or other book-ish materials? Apply now for the Elmer Adler Book Collecting Prize. A top prize of $4,000 will be awarded to the winner of each division, both undergraduate and graduate. 

The 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.  

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 include 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. Prizes will be awarded for student-assembled collections that demonstrate thought, ingenuity, and thematic coherence.

Judging Procedures & Criteria


ROUND 1: The judging committee will evaluate all applications received by the deadline. Based on their review of the materials, judges will select finalists to be contacted for interviews. 

ROUND 2: Finalists will be invited to meet briefly with the judging committee via Zoom. This will be an opportunity for each finalist to share more about their collection and their approach to collecting. 


Judges will evaluate submissions using the following categories: 

SCOPE: The make-up of the collection is clearly defined and carefully curated (i.e., not simply the result of course-required readings or a group of materials obtained en bloc). 

VISION: The collector demonstrates creativity in their approach to collecting and articulates the ways in which the collection might expand or evolve going forward. 

SIGNIFICANCE: The collection's contents exhibit thematic, artifactual, and/or bibliographical value, both personally and generally. Please note that monetary value, rarity, and/or number of items do not factor into the significance of the collection.

WRITING: The application materials are well written.

How to Participate

The 2024 Adler Prize is accepting submissions now through Friday, February 16, 2024.

Currently enrolled Princeton undergraduate and graduate students may apply. Submissions are accepted via an online form.

Applications must include 1) a summary of up to 500 words describing your collection’s contents and your overall collecting approach and 2) an annotated bibliography of up to 3 pages describing selected items.  

Formatting Requirements

  • Collection Summary: up to 500 words in a Document or PDF file format

  • Annotated Bibliography: up to 3 pages in a Document, PDF, or Spreadsheet file format

Please note that submissions received after the deadline will not be forwarded to the judges.

Apply now! The deadline is Friday, February 16, 2024. 

Please contact Molly Dotson, Graphic Arts Librarian and Adler Prize Committee Chair, with any questions. 

Submission Materials

For consideration, please craft a brief summary of up to 500 words describing the following:

  1. the scope and purpose of your collection
  2. how and when you began collecting
  3. how and where you acquire materials
  4. how you imagine the collection might evolve.

In addition, please provide an annotated bibliography of up to 3 pages. This list does not need to be comprehensive. You should select items that illustrate the type(s) and range of materials in your collection.

List entries should include bibliographic details as appropriate (e.g., author, title, date, place of publication, etc.), physical descriptions, or other notable features that reflect your collecting interests and practices.


Top Prize - Undergraduate Division: $4,000

Top Prize - Graduate Division: $4,000

The two winners will receive their prizes at the annual spring meeting of the Friends of the Princeton University Library (FPUL), which the winners are strongly encouraged to attend.

Both division winners will also have the option to be entered into the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest (NCBCC), organized by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA). Please note that, per the ABAA's contest rules, the winning submissions will be entered exactly as submitted to the Adler Prize contest, without the possibility of revision. However, Adler Prize winners do have the option to submit supplemental materials (not to exceed 5 pages) to assist the NCBCC judges.

In addition, the Adler Prize winners may also have the opportunity to have their collection featured in a Library-affiliated publication.

Past Winners