Summer reading teams to face off at UCSD

As you lay on that outspread beach blanket, basking in the sun on yet another beautiful summer day in La Jolla, you may not need an excuse to catch up on your summer reading.

But if you do, the Social Sciences & Humanities Library (SSHL) at UCSD is more than happy to provide some motivation in the form of friendly competition, social networking and prizes.

The library will hold its fifth annual Summer Reading Contest, May 1 through July 31. The purpose is to better acquaint members of the UCSD community with the 10 libraries on campus and to educate potential patrons about what the libraries have to offer and how to access those materials.

The contest is open to all UCSD students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as anyone with a UCSD library card.

Choosing from among the more than 3 million volumes available in the UCSD libraries, participants will read books and write reviews, which will be posted on the SSHL Web site. Everyone who writes a review will win at least one prize. Other prizes are also available, and participants can form teams of two to six people to qualify for additional recognition as a team.

More than 200 people and about 20 teams participated in last year’s contest.

“It’s a really great way for (participants) to reconnect with reading for pleasure,” said Mariah Burzynski, SSHL outreach program coordinator and chair of the committee that organizes the contest. “Read anything, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be a textbook if you’re a student, or staff development-related if you’re a staff member.”

At the same time, Burzynski said, the contest is a labor of love for the SSHL - “a real feel-good experience” - as well as “a great way for us to showcase our collections and to show what we’re doing in the libraries.”

Reviews of children’s literature, especially extremely short books for very young readers, will not be accepted; however, readers of young adult novels, such as the popular “Harry Potter” series, are welcome to submit reviews. The libraries’ unabridged audiobooks can also be reviewed, as long as the written versions of the same books are also available in the UCSD library system.

Contest participants will automatically receive a prize when they submit their first, fifth and tenth reviews. Raffle prizes and other awards for such categories as “Most Books Read by an Individual” and “Most Books Read by a Team” will be awarded at a Summer Reading Luncheon, which will be held Aug. 21 at Geisel Library. Throughout the contest, a “Reader of the Week” will be randomly selected, featured on the Web site and entered into a drawing at the luncheon.

The luncheon, like the optional team component of the contest, presents an opportunity to bring people together, Burzynski said. More specifically, the luncheon is “a way for all the contestants to meet each other and to meet us as the host.”

Participation in the contest has increased each year, Burzynski said. Fifty people participated in the contest during its inaugural year. In 2006, there were 179 participants; last year, there were 246. Burzynski hopes that at least 250 people will participate in this year’s contest, but “if it grows at the rate that it’s continued to grow,” she said there might be as many as 300.

For those who would like more interaction with fellow participants, Burzynski said, the contest is adding a new feature this year: an online forum, which will facilitate social networking.

The full contest rules are available on the SSHL Web site. Also available online is additional information on prizes, the luncheon and the community organizations that are serving as contest sponsors. There are also links to several sites that make reading recommendations.

“They’re going to have a great time,” Burzynski said of contest participants. “It’s pretty much guaranteed that they’re going to get review prizes, as long as they submit at least one review, and it’s a great way to network and spend the summer, and an excellent way to read for pleasure.”

For more information or to sign up for the contest, visit