MCB Establishes Literary Prize Honoring Ardis Glenn of Kansas City

(*Resolution of Ardis Glenn Prizes)


October 13, 1977, Congressional Act, Public Law 95-129, established the National Center for the Book under the auspices of the Library of Congress.  Exactly thirty six-years later, October 13, 2013, The Missouri Center for the Book proudly announced a prestigious literary prize honoring Ardis Glenn, renowned Kansas City antiquarian bookseller.  "The Ardis Glenn Prizes, to be awarded in the future to individuals and institutions that, in the spirit of Ardis Glenn, promote book arts in its varied aspects (writing, illustrating, designing, printing, collecting, selling, teaching) in Missouri," was established by unanimous resolution at a meeting of the MCB Board of Directors held at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg.  With deep appreciation for her lifetime achievements in antiquarian books and book arts, the Missouri Center for the Book awards the first Glenn Prize to Ardis L. Glenn, setting high standards indeed for future recipients.  Congratulations, Mrs. Glenn! 

Biographical Note:

Ardis Lenore Couchman was born in Kansas City in 1922.  Employment as a temporary secretary brought Ardis into the professional and personal life of Frank Glenn, founder of Frank Glenn Books in Kansas City.  

Opening in 1933 at 312 Ward Parkway on the Country Club Plaza, Glenn Bookshop settling for its longest run Downtown, at 1227 Baltimore.  Early in 1942, Frank dictated a proposal of marriage to his secretary.  The impossibly romantic proposal was accepted, charting a permanent path of Bibliomania for the former Miss Couchman.  The scope of Glenn Books reputation steadily continued to advance.

Upon Frank’s death in 1960, Ardis assumed a position held by very few women at the time. The rarified world of antiquarian bookselling, particularly at the level Glenn Books had attained, was solidly “a man’s world.”  Ardis was privately filled with concern about her ability to succeed.  Publicly, however, she did not falter.  Determined to command the respect of her colleagues, Ardis carefully chose representatives of the shop’s finest books to exhibit at the prestigious Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America book fair in New York. She made reservations at the Plaza and traveled to Manhattan, alone. An exquisite Book of Hours, dating from 1440, along with a collection of 15th century illuminated manuscript leaves drew attention to the “new” Glenn book shop booth.  The fair was a triumph.  Any doubts about who was in charge in the Kansas City rare book world after Frank Glenn’s passing, were silenced.  A Missouri book woman held the reins firmly in hand.

Glenn Books was sold in 1987 to Frederic and Carolyn Gilhousen, who maintain the traditions of excellence.

Ardis currently resides in Florida, where she continues to share her lifelong love of books, the book arts and reading with boundless generosity and grace.  She is affectionately known as “The Doyenne” and “The Belle of Baltimore.”  For nearly thirty years, she lived in the middle of Missouri’s rich literary tapestry. Rare book collectors of international repute and readers barely tall enough to reach the shop doorbell, received the same welcome from the book lady at 1227 Baltimore.   “Come in,” she would say, gleefully.  “I have something special to show you.”

*The Resolution of the Ardis Glenn Prizes was written by MCB board Vice President and professor of English at Missouri State University, Dr. James S. Baumlin, designed and printed by Jacek Fraczak, Department of Art and Design, Missouri State University. The  Congressional Act of 1977, forms the border surrounding the text block.  Presented and Signed by Larisa Cassell, President of the Missouri Center for the Book, October 13, 2013. 


Text of Resolution:

WHEREAS, Ardis Glenn has devoted her rich and full life to the study, collection, and purveyance of antiquarian books;

WHEREAS, Ardis Glenn has distinguished herself both nationally and internationally as one of Missouri’s first successful women in the field of antiquarian bookselling;

WHEREAS, Ardis Glenn has faithfully served the field by her memberships in the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB);

WHEREAS, Ardis Glenn has been instrumental in growing and maintaining Glenn Books of Kansas City, Missouri, which remains among the oldest and most distinguished antiquarian bookstores in the American Midwest;

WHEREAS, Ardis Glenn has been known fondly as “the Doyene of Kansas City Booksellers” and “the Belle of Baltimore,” earning the respect of Kansas City’s literati in her contributions to the book arts;

WHEREAS, Ardis Glenn has mentored subsequent generations of book lovers and book collectors and booksellers, inspiring them and teaching them the art and science of antiquarian books;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that by these presents the Missouri Center for the Book honors Ardis Glenn for her lifetime achievement in antiquarian bookselling and for supporting book arts in Missouri;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Missouri Center for the Book hereby establishes the Ardis Glenn Prizes, to be awarded in the future to individuals and institutions that, in the spirit of Ardis Glenn, promote book arts in its varied aspects (writing, illustrating, designing, printing, collecting, selling, teaching) in Missouri.

DATED at Warrensburg, Missouri, on the thirteenth day of October, A.D. 2013.

Larisa Cassell, President

Missouri Center for the Book