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About the Competition


To encourage students at Washington University to read for enjoyment and to develop personal libraries throughout their lives.


Awards will be given in two categories: graduate and undergraduate. There will be a first- and second-place award for each of the two categories. First prize is $1,000; second prize is $500.


Except for previous Neureuther winners, any full-time, currently registered Washington University student is eligible to participate. Students enter by submitting a two- to four-page essay and a bibliography of her/his collection. Collections of any size and on any subject are eligible. Judging is based on collection description, personal value, and writing quality.

Collection Requirements

The book collection must be owned by the contest entrant. (NOTE: If and when an entrant's essay is awarded a prize, s/he must be prepared to submit a representative sample of books [three to five] from the collection to the contest committee for temporary display by the Libraries.) Collections may be of any size and on any subject and should reflect the owner's intellectual, personal or recreational interests.

Criteria for Entry

Entries accepted in Special Collections at Olin Library from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays.

All entries must consist of the following elements:

  1. A completed entry form.
  2. An essay. The essay should be typed, double-space, on white, 8 ½ x 11-inch paper, at least two pages but no longer than four pages. [See Judging section, below, for essay criteria]. Submit three copies; one with your name on it, two without.
  3. A formal bibliography to demonstrate a representative sampling of the book collection. This can be attached to the end of your essay. Use an established style guide, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or The MLA Handbook or one of the APA Style series. Submit three copies; one with your name on it, two without.


Judging of the essay will be based on the theme and scope of the collection, approach to collecting, personal value to the collector, and quality of the writing, but will not be judged on rarity, marketplace value, or size of the collection. Judging will be conducted by a panel of volunteers drawn primarily from the faculty of Washington University, with a past graduate-level winner or local WU Libraries supporter often serving as well.


Once judging is completed all entrants will be notified. The winners of the competition will be notified at the end of March, at which point they will submit three to five books from their collections to the contest committee, which will host an awards luncheon in early April with the judges and the university librarian. Portions of the winning collections may be displayed in Olin Library for a brief period, and the winning essays will be posted on the Libraries' website.

Neureuther Competition Home page
Entry Form (PDF)
Book Collecting Resources
Winning Essays Online