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Harvard University Library Notes / July 2007 / No. 1338
2007 Visiting Committee Prize for Undergraduate Book CollectingA family activity rare in this day and age inspired the collection of this year's winner of the Visiting Committee Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting. Robin Worth Reinert '10 has been awarded first prize for her entry, "Songs That Never Die: Community Songbooks in America."
"I've loved community singing since I was a toddler. My family used to sit around the piano and sing old American songs," wrote Reinert in her competition essay. "My mom played the piano, my dad sang bass, and I sang soprano. We would really ham it up—my dad wearing a bowler hat and playing a kazoo for the song 'Hello Ma Baby' and me singing descant on 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic.'" Only as Reinert grew older did she realize that her experience was, for most Americans, a thing of the past. "I want to rescue abandoned songs of the past few centuries. I want to publish my own community songbook, a book of all the songs I love, including all the obscure, beautiful songs that I find in my explorations," said Reinert. "I want my book to be worthy to sit next to all the beautiful, living songbooks that I have seen."
The Visiting Committee Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting, established in 1977 to recognize and encourage book collecting by undergraduates, is sponsored by the Overseers' Committee to Visit the University Library. Lamont Librarian Heather Cole, who has coordinated the competition since its inception, annually selects a jury with noted bibliographic expertise from among Harvard College Library staff. An exhibition featuring items from Reinert's collection will be on display in Lamont Library on Level 4 through May 2008.