Seth Trotter Book Collecting Contest

2020 Seth Trotter Book Collecting Contest

Do you love books? Do countless editions of the Harry Potter series fill your shelves? Do you have a growing number of carefully preserved comic books? Have you amassed a collection of Irish travel books, books on Delaware history or a number of entries on the banned books list?

You may be a book collector without realizing it.

This annual book-collecting contest seeks to encourage reading and research, the creation of personal libraries, and the appreciation of printed or illustrated works for pleasure and scholarship.

A collection shares a central focus between its many items and can be based on any number of aspects—author, genre, aesthetic, subject, cover art, etc. Share your collection and enter for a chance to win a cash prize. Applications are due May 22, 2020.


  • The contest is open to all University of Delaware students.
  • Collections can be on any subject.
  • Hardbacks and paperbacks can be included, along with other types of material, such as ephemera, photographs, artworks, manuscripts or playbills.
  • The collection does not have to include rare books.
  • Collections will be judged on their purpose, meaning, intellectual content, personal connection, coherence and creativity, as well as the submitted application.


To apply, please submit:

  • A cover sheet with the title of the collection, your name and your contact details.
  • An essay—no more than 3,000 words—exploring the theme, development, personal meaning and contents of the collection.
  • A list of all items in the collection, written in a consistent bibliographical style.Annotated descriptions (1-2 sentences in length) on 10-20 representative items in the collection should indicate points of interest as well as why each of the items is included in the collection.
  • A “want list” of 5-10 items you would like to acquire for the collection.Annotated descriptions (1-2 sentences in length) should explain how the item would enhance the collection.
  • Digital images of selected items are not required, but are welcome.

Finalists will be asked to show items from their collections to the judges and make a brief oral presentation.

Please send all questions and application materials to Mark Samuels Lasner, senior research fellow at the UD Library, Museums and Press, at

Applications are due May 22, 2020.


The contest is sponsored by the Friends of the University of Delaware Library, an organization dedicated to expanding and enriching the research collections of the UD Library.

2019 Winners

We are pleased to announce the following winners of the 2019 Seth Trotter Book Collecting Contest:

  • First Prize: Joseph Nakao, “Pass It On” A Young Mathematician’s Preservation of a Culture yet to Be Forgotten
  • Second Prize: Miriam-Helene Rudd, 20th Century Mystery Adventure Series for Young Women (Rudd also won second prize in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest)
  • Third Prize: Sean McAllister, A Harry Potter Rosetta Stone


A Word about Seth Trotter ‘94

Seth Trotter, who passed away suddenly on November 7, 1995, graduated from the University of Delaware in 1994. While a student at UD, Seth was heavily involved with the Friends of the UD Library. As a member of the Friends, he readily enjoyed visiting the Library’s Special Collections exhibitions, attending Library lectures and going to the Friends’ Annual Dinner.

To honor his legacy, Seth’s parents created the Seth M. Trotter Memorial Fund in 1995 to keep alive not only his memory, but the values of scholarship and intellectual excitement that the Friends of the UD Library kindled within him.

In the summer of 2019, Joseph Trotter, Seth’s father, gave his blessing to the Friends of the UD Library to name its Book Collecting Contest and Special Collections Essay Contest after his son. The Friends are honored to pay tribute to Seth in such a meaningful way. To directly support this fund, please specify the “Seth M. Trotter Memorial Fund” when making a gift.