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Book Collectors Compete

As a kid, collections consisted of shiny pennies and nickels found in couch cushions and a piece of sparkling quartz lying beside the driveway. However for some students at MSU, collecting is not child’s play.

(Photo credit: Shuyi Meng)

The Student Book Collecting Competition held its thirteenth annual collectors event on Tuesday, April 6. Four finalists received the opportunity to display their collections and the chance to earn prize money from $100 to $500.

Lia Greenwell, a creative writing junior, entered a collection of poetry, saying it was well worth the extra time.

“I figured that if I spent ten hours on [the collection], it would be just like working ten extra hours,” Greenwell said. She placed second and was awarded $250, along with a gift certificate to the Curious Book Shoppe in downtown East Lansing. Greenwell said that if she placed second or higher, she would definitely be adding to her collection.

For first place winner and American studies graduate student Amanda Sikarskie, the $500 prize will allow her to add to her Gwen Frostic collection. Her now-husband had been the first to suggest the author/poet to her.

“He suggested that I might like the artist, and I said, ‘Hey look, things to buy,’” Sikarskie said, as she explained the excitement of discovering something new.

The prize money isn’t the only thing that drives these students to collect. Rikki Reynolds, a Residential College of Arts and Humanities junior, buys her books like pieces of artwork.

She first began buying books because she liked the cover art, and slowly, she began to notice a pattern. Now, her collection centers around covers that display avant-garde and abstract pictures and words.

Describing the style of her favorite cover artist Roy Kahlman, Reynolds said, “In the fifties and sixties, he made art out of words.”

For Greenwell, her poetry collection started with required books for classes and books she checked out from the library. As she checked out and rechecked out, she decided that she needed copies of her own.

Here favorite buys came from used book sales. “I like having things that other people have had before,” Greenwell said.

With the four tables looking polished and organized, the finalists mingled excitedly while waiting for the results. Peter Burg, the Head of Special Collections, stood proudly on the side. Burg has organized the all of the past thirteen Collectors’ Competitions.

“It’s a lot of work, but once you see everything that’s here, it’s worth while,” Burg said.

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