Since 1999, UNT Libraries in cooperation with UNT Friends of the Libraries has offered a biennial artists' book competition, inviting UNT students, faculty, and community members to submit entries for inclusion in the exhibit. All accepted student entries are eligible for a purchase prize that is granted at the discretion of the judges. Entries selected for the purchase prize become a permanent addition to Special Collections. Inspiration for the competition came from Gilbert Peña's 1:31 a.m., an artists' book acquired by UNT in the mid-1990s.
The purpose of the competition and exhibition is to encourage developing student’s work in the medium of Artists’ Books, to foster the creation of Artists’ Books, reward excellence and creativity in the medium of Artists’ Books, and to build the collection of Artists’ Books in UNT Special Collections.
An artist’s book is a medium in which to convey artistic expression using the form and function of a book as the point of inspiration - a book that is a work of art in itself. Often created to be art that is portable and interactive, many artists’ books call into question the formal role of a book and become sculptural objects. Artist's books can defy description and categorization. They are more than just text; they become art through combinations of text and images, fine or unusual bindings, or unexpected formats that engage the viewer. Often, artists' books are unique items or of limited editions. A good artists' book will truly be more than words on a page, and pages within covers.