News | August 27, 2023

Book Collector 
Oscar Salguero Wins David Ruggles Prize

Oscar Salguero/David Ruggles Prize

Oscar Salguero

The second annual David Ruggles Prize, the international book collecting prize established in 2020 to support and encourage young collectors of color, has been awarded to Oscar Salguero.

Salguero's collection was "unlike anything the judges had seen" according to the prize jury who presented him with the $1,000 for his entry. His 'Interspecies Library' explores through artists’ books the interconnectedness of the planet’s many forms of life, including the complex relationships humans have with fungi, bacteria, plants, and everything that roams the earth. 

"More than this, it reflects humanity’s relationship with the environment at a time of climate crisis," said the judges. "It preserves for posterity a snapshot of our thoughts and emotions when multiple climatic tipping points feel impossibly close. International in scope but strictly focused, his 200-book collection is as much a global survey of the subject as it is the expression of one collector. We loved it - really interesting, very different, and so clever and inventive."

The judges were also impressed by the collection of Jalynn Harris who was awarded the $500 second prize for Harris's multi-genre collection on queer Africa documenting the experiences of queer Africans through poetry, graphic novels, magazines, and other manifestations of print. According to the judges, who described it as "unique and compelling",: "The collection is a triumph, a symbol of queer Africans’ ongoing advocacy for their right to exist. Beyond this vital representation, the collection underscores the possibilities and the importance of collecting material outside major western distribution channels. 

The $250 third prize went to Erin Severson who has assembled an alluring collection on the British long 18th century, but focusing especially on work by or about women and people of color, and seeking books in the worst condition imaginable (she speaks proudly of her “rat-eaten” and “water-logged” books). 

“I feel like I am working against this devaluation of books as part and parcel of how I work against the devaluation of authors or subjects in my period based on their gender or race,” she commented, admitting being fascinated by “the tension between the durability of these books and the fragility of their value.” The judges were pleased to reward the refreshing focus and method.

This year's five judges were Cairo-based book artist, papermaker, and lecturer Islam Aly; Lauren Burke, Chicago-based writer and host of the podcast Bonnets at Dawn; Angelina Coronado, PhD student at Columbia University researching Caribbean modernities, with a focus on the Dominican Republic; Sara Powell, Assistant Curator of Early Books and Manuscript’s at Harvard’s Houghton Library; and Bridgett Kathryn Johnson-Pride, Interim Associate Librarian for Public Services at the Houghton.