Leab Exhibition Awards Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria are used by the RBMS Exhibition Awards Committee in evaluating entries for the The Katharine Kyes Leab & Daniel J. Leab American Book Prices Current Exhibition Awards for printed exhibition catalogs and brochures. No point scale is provided since individual judges may assign a different weighting to each factor.


Catalogs

Catalogs are printed volumes that accompany an exhibition of library or archival materials.

Explanation of Catalog Evaluation Criteria

Catalog Intellectual Content 1. Originality of content. The subject matter of the catalog is original, or is treated in a highly original way.

Catalog Intellectual Content 2. Overall informational content. There should be a sense that the subject is covered adequately for the aims of the exhibition. These aims can be determined partly by looking at Intellectual Content criterion 8, Appropriateness to intended audience, and Design criterion 2, Appropriateness to subject matter. For someone totally new to the exhibition's subject, one question to ask as a basis for judgment is, "What did I learn from this catalog?" Another is, "What would a typical (or the specified) audience for this catalog learn from it?" Many catalogs do not purport to be definitive studies of their exhibition's subject matter. Still, each catalog must offer enough information to satisfy a reader's desire for basic knowledge.

Catalog Intellectual Content 3. Accuracy of detail and bibliographic description. Correct facts, grammar, spelling, and syntax. Bibliographic descriptions for nonscholarly catalogs may consist of simple author, title, and publication data transcriptions. Those for scholarly catalogs should be more extensive, and may include binding, provenance, media, and illustration processes information. Descriptions of nonbook items will follow appropriate standards for these formats.

Catalog Intellectual Content 4. Apparatus. This includes at the very least, the title and dates of the exhibition, the name of the host institution, and information about the catalog's author, designer, printer, date, and place of production. It may also include data on the paper, binding materials, typeface, and printing processes, the edition size, and information on how to obtain further copies. There should be a table of contents and an index for lengthy texts. There may also be acknowledgments, a preface, and a bibliography (or suggestions for further reading).

Catalog Intellectual Content 5. Organization and presentation. This refers to the content, not the physical layout of the catalog. Does the information in the catalog flow in a natural or logical order and is the writing clear and understandable?

Catalog Intellectual Content 6. Choice of items. The range of items displayed must convey a thorough sense of the exhibition's topic. However, an item that may have been ideal for display may not have been in the institution's collection and may have been unavailable for borrowing (or unwanted, if an exhibition aim was to show the institution's own holdings). This is not considered a defect.

Catalog Intellectual Content 7. Illustrations. These need not always be present, especially if the catalog is designed primarily to be used with the exhibition and not to be sold. On the other hand, if the subject needs illumination, and the meaning, impact, or purpose of the exhibition cannot be understood without illustrations, they should be there. If all items are not illustrated, the most significant or visually arresting should be chosen for reproduction, if they can be photographed. The illustrations should not be superfluous graphics that break the monotony of printed columns; they should be clearly germane to the exhibition.

Catalog Intellectual Content 8. Appropriateness to intended audience. The entry form requires identification of the intended audience. The catalog text should not be over the heads of this audience or too rudimentary. Considerations are the level of writing and the extent and depth of coverage of the topic.

Catalog Intellectual Content 9. Contribution to scholarship. A catalog may fill a gap in an area where there is little scholarship or may become a reference tool or basic text in its field. It may take a new and valuable approach to an old and overworked topic. In the absence of subject expertise, judges will also look at the depth of coverage and information provided in the catalog about its relationship to existing scholarship in the field.

Catalog Design 1. Originality of design. A catalog may adopt a shape or feature somehow appropriate to its subject matter or use typography in ways suggestive of the exhibition's topic. The design should not, however, impede the smooth flow of reading, or overwhelm the intellectual content.

Catalog Design 2. Appropriateness of design. While design elements need not directly reflect the subject matter of the exhibition, they should not be antithetical to it.

Catalog Design 3. Effectiveness of design. The design should work in practical terms as well as in aesthetic terms. Among the considerations are typeface, leading, color, headlines, and graphics.

Catalog Design 4. Typography. Margins, typeface, choice of colors, and inking are considerations. Typographical arrangement should not interfere with legibility.

Catalog Design 5. Materials and production. Paper should be acid-free and binding materials durable, appropriate, and pleasing for reader use. Production considerations include register and orientation of text, stapling, sewing, or gluing.

Catalog Design 6. Quality of reproduction. Size, register, color, focus, and sharpness are all considerations.

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Brochures

Brochures are printed leaflets, booklets, and folded flat or single sheets that orient visitors to an exhibition or serve as a loosely documentary keepsake.

Explanation of Brochure Evaluation Criteria

Brochure Intellectual Content 1. Originality of content. The subject matter of the brochure is original or is treated in a highly original way.

Brochure Intellectual Content 2. Overall informational content. There should be a sense that the subject is introduced adequately for the aims of the exhibition. These aims can be determined partly by looking at Intellectual Content criterion 8, Appropriateness to intended audience, and Design criterion 2, Appropriateness to subject matter. For someone totally new to the exhibition's subject, one question to ask as a basis for judgment is, "Do I feel that I now know in a general way what the exhibition is about and how it approaches the subject?" Another is, "What would a typical (or the specified) audience for this brochure learn from it?" The brochure content should entice the reader to see the full exhibition and to learn more about its subject. Yet there should be enough real information that the brochure is not merely an advertising vehicle but a true record--although an abbreviated one--of the exhibition.

Brochure Intellectual Content 3. Accuracy of detail and bibliographic description. Correct facts, grammar, spelling, and syntax. Bibliographic descriptions of items should be complete enough for their identification.

Brochure Intellectual Content 4. Apparatus. This includes, at the very least, the title and dates of the exhibition and the name of the host institution. It may also include information about the brochure's author, designer, printer, date, and place of production, and data on the paper and type, alhtough this colophon-type information should not overwhelm the actual brochure text. There should be mention of other exhibition-related publications (printed and Web) and contacts for ordering or consultation (addresses and urls as appropriate). A bibliography (or suggestions for further reading) might also be included.

Brochure Intellectual Content 5. Organization and presentation. This refers to the content, not the physical layout of the brochure. Does the information in the brochure flow in a natural or logical order and is the writing clear and understandable? Does it reflect the exhibition's scope?

Brochure Intellectual Content 6. Choice of items. The brochure may or may not include a brief checklist. It will probably be unknown to the judges what holdings the institution had available for exhibition or what it chose to exhibit that is not highlighted in the brochure. Still, there should be some sense that significant items are highlighted in the brochure (through text or illustration).

Brochure Intellectual Content 7. Illustrations. These need not always be present, especially if the brochure is designed primarily to be used with the exhibition and not to be sold. On the other hand, if the subject needs illumination, and the meaning, impact, or purpose of the exhibition cannot be understood without illustrations, they should be there. The illustrations should not be superfluous graphics that break the monotony of printed columns; they should be clearly germane to the exhibition.

Brochure Intellectual Content 8. Appropriateness to intended audience. The entry form requires identification of the intended audience. The catalog text should not be over the heads of this audience or too rudimentary.

Brochure Design 1. Originality of design. A brochure may be a leaflet, foldout, or simple broadsheet. It may adopt a shape or feature somehow appropriate to its subject matter or use typography in a way suggestive of the exhibition's topic. The design should not, however, impede the smooth flow of reading, or overwhelm the intellectual content.

Brochure Design 2. Appropriateness of design. While design elements need not directly reflect the subject matter of the exhibition, they should not be antithetical to it.

Brochure Design 3. Effectiveness of design. The design should work in practical terms as well as in aesthetic terms. Among the considerations are typeface, leading, color, headlines, and graphics.

Brochure Design 4. Typography. Margins, typeface, choice of colors, and inking are considerations. Typographical arrangement may be more innovative than in a printed catalog but it should not interfere with legibility.

Brochure Design 5. Materials and production. Paper should be, ideally, acid-freeand of appropriate quality for intended use. Production considerations include folding, stapling, register and orientation of text, and sewing or gluing.

Brochure Design 6. Quality of reproduction. Size, register, color, focus, and sharpness are all considerations.

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Electronic Exhibitions

Electronic Exhibitions are produced for distribution on the World Wide Web or on other digital media. They serve as gateways to library or archival materials. An electronic exhibition need not be based on a physical exhibition but it must describe the materials from a distinct point of view.

Explanation of Electronic Exhibition Evaluation Criteria

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 1. Originality of content. The subject matter of the electronic exhibition is original, or is treated in a highly original way.

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 2. Overall informational content. There should be a sense that the subject is covered adequately for the aims of the exhibition. These aims can be determined partly by looking at Intellectual criterion 8, Appropriateness to intended audience, and Design criterion 2, Appropriateness to subject matter. For someone totally new to the exhibition's subject, one question to ask as a basis for judgment is, "What did I learn from this exhibition?" Another is, "What would a typical (or the specified) audience for this exhibition learn from it?" Many exhibitions do not purport to be definitive treatments of the subject matter. Still, each exhibition must offer enough information to satisfy a viewer's desire for basic knowledge.

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 3. Accuracy of detail and bibliographical description. Facts, grammar, spelling, and syntax should be correct. Bibliographical description may range from simple author, title, and publication data all the way to accounts of binding, provenance, media, and illustration processes, physical structure, etc., as appropriate. The sources of images should be properly cited.

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 4. Apparatus. This includes at the very least, the title and dates (if applicable) of the exhibition, the name of the host institution, and information about the electronic exhibition's author, date of creation, and designer. There should be a complete table of contents or site map for exhibitions. There may also be acknowledgements, a preface, a bibliography, and links to related resources.

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 5. Organization and presentation. This refers to the content, not the layout of the electronic exhibition. Does the information flow in a natural or logical manner and is the writing clear and understandable? 

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 6. Choice of items. The range of objects featured must convey a thorough sense of the topic. 

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 7. Illustrations. Clearly, the use of graphics in an electronic exhibition differs from that in a printed catalog. More graphics can be featured in exhibitions than in printed catalogs, but graphics should still be germane to the exhibition and enhance understanding of the topic. If all items cannot be illustrated, the most significant or visually arresting should be chosen for reproduction. 

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 8. Appropriateness to intended audience. The entry form requires
identification of the intended audience. The exhibition text should neither be over the heads nor too rudimentary for the intended audience. Considerations are the level of writing and the extent and depth of coverage of the topic.

Electronic Exhibition Intellectual Content 9. Contribution to scholarship. An electronic exhibition may fill in an area where there is little scholarship or may become a reference tool or basic text in its field. It may take a new and valuable approach to an old and overworked topic. In the absence of subject expertise, judges will also look at the depth of coverage and information provided in the exhibition about its relationship to existing scholarship in the field.

Electronic Exhibition Design 1. Originality of design. An electronic exhibition may adopt a background image or other feature appropriate to the topic of the exhibition.

Electronic Exhibition Design 2. Appropriateness of design. While design elements need not directly reflect the subject matter of the exhibition, they should not be antithetical to it.

Electronic Exhibition Design 3. Effectiveness of design. The design should work in practical terms as well as in aesthetic terms. Among the considerations are font, color, headlines, and graphics. Ease of navigation is of paramount importance. See Suggested Practices at the end of the design criteria.

Electronic Exhibition Design 4. Typography. Margins, font size, font style, and choice of colors are considerations. The typographical design and arrangement should not interfere with legibility.

Electronic Exhibition Design 5. Multi-media and accessibility. The exhibition should be accessible to as wide a user-base as possible. Additional multi-media features are encouraged, but applicants need to remember that not all necessary plug-ins will be in place in all browsers. If such elements are included, alternate pathways should be indicated. Compliance with American Disabilities Act, Section 508 will be viewed favorably.

Electronic Exhibition Design 6. Quality of reproduction. Size, register, focus, and sharpness are all considerations.

Suggested Practices for the Design of Electronic Exhibitions:

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Submission Guidelines and Entry Forms