Enter the University Libraries’ Student Essay Contest

Calling all bibliophiles! Through the annual Neureuther Student Book Collection Essay Competition, the Washington University Libraries are giving away cash prizes to the students who write the best short essays about their personal book collections.

Contest history: Now in its 34th year, the competition was named for Carl Neureuther, a 1940 graduate of the School of Business who set up an endowed book fund for the University Libraries. The contest was designed to inspire reading for pleasure among students and to encourage the cultivation of personal libraries. Past winners have showcased collections of literary criticism, cookbooks, and queer comics.

Who can enter: The competition is open to any full-time Washington University student and offers four cash awards: $1,000 and $500 at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The entry deadline for the contest is 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 5, 2021.

How to enter: Beginning this year, students will be able to submit their essays electronically. Eligible students should upload the following materials by March 5: 1) a completed entry form; 2) a two- to four-page essay about the book collection; and 3) a bibliography listing the books in the collection.

Judges, who are volunteers chosen from the faculty and university community, will take a number of factors into account when assessing the essays, including the scope of each collection, its thematic unity, and its personal value to the collector.

Entry forms, examples of winning essays, and information on how to enter are online here. Winners will be announced in April. For more information, contact Julie Hale at jhale@wustl.edu.

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