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Spring 2018 | Volume 19 | Number 2
In This Issue
Note from the Dean
 Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

As you may know, I stepped away from the Library for about a year to serve as our provost. On January 16, I returned to my post as dean of libraries and university librarian, and I’m excited to be back. The Library was in excellent hands under the leadership of Bill Mischo (head of the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center), and my amazing Library colleagues were deeply committed and engaged in helping the Library thrive during my time away. Despite budget reductions, our Library remains strong.

My priorities for the Library going forward are to strengthen our support for collections, to continue to adapt our services to changing circumstances, and to further develop library spaces. My ability to turn to and rely on Bill Mischo during my time away reinforces my sense of the need to have deep leadership. I will be focusing on cultivating our next generation of library leaders. A strong professional culture is imperative as we carry out these priorities. If you have any questions or comments about any of these initiatives, please contact me at or feel free to stop by 230 Main Library to visit. I look forward to meeting and talking with you.

Regarding library spaces, one of my goals is revisiting the concept behind the ambitious 2009 Master Plan, a building project that focused on a dramatic transformation of the Main Library as well as the repurposing of the Undergraduate Library for special collections. I believe the key concepts in that original plan are viable, and I look forward to working with the campus to shape an effort that supports collaborative work, particularly in the humanities and social and behavioral sciences. Much as the Beckman Institute does for a set of science disciplines, I believe the Main Library can serve to foster this kind of collaborative work and break down disciplinary boundaries.

You may have also heard about our collections milestone. While I was away, the Library acquired its 14-millionth volume, The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation. This, of course, was perfect timing with the University celebrating its sesquicentennial. You can read more about this notable acquisition at A display recognizing all of the Library’s millionth volumes, including Engine of Innovation, will be permanently housed on the first floor of the Main Library. A special event is planned for the fall upon the display’s completion. I hope you can join us!

Sir Isaac Newton Manuscript Acquired

Through the deep generosity of Library Friends Lionelle & Jim Elsesser, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired Opus Galli Anonymi (Work of an Anonymous Frenchman), a manuscript by Sir Isaac Newton, in which he translates a work from French into Latin as part of his alchemical studies in his attempt to create the philosopher’s stone. The philosopher's stone, as legend has it, is a substance that can turn ordinary metals into precious metals, such as gold or silver. The stone is also equated with the elixir of life believed to grant immortality.

Read more from the Illinois News Bureau about this wonderful new addition to the RBML at

The Investiture of Lynne M. Thomas
Head of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library Honored

On April 6, the University Library celebrated the investiture of Lynne M. Thomas, who joined the Library as the head of its esteemed Rare Book & Manuscript Library last summer. She now holds the title of Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Rare Book & Manuscript Professor.

Endowed chairs are the highest honor the university can bestow on faculty members. Named positions like this enhance the Library’s services, programs, and reputation by recognizing and fostering the considerable research contributions of its faculty.

Given that the goal of the professorship is to enhance the scholarly research of faculty by providing them with additional resources, it was appropriate to have Paul Ellinger, associate chancellor and vice provost for budget and resource planning, as a special guest at Professor Thomas’s investiture.

Another special guest included Barbara M. Jones who served as head rare book and special collections librarian from 1996-2003. Dr. Jones hired Thomas as a graduate assistant during her tenure at Illinois becoming a mentor in addition to a colleague. Dr. Jones’s dedication inspired the Simpsons to endow her position in 2002 which, at the time, was the Library’s first faculty chair.

Read more at  

Tim Cole Receives Professorship
Math Librarian Named Elaine and Allen Avner Professor in Interdisciplinary Research

The University Library has named Timothy W. Cole, head of the Mathematics Library, for the Elaine and Allen Avner Professorship in Interdisciplinary Research. Cole holds this honor as of April 16, continuing for five years.

The professorship was established with a gift from longtime Library Friend Allen Avner in November 2017. Cole will carry out research in fields connected to the application of information technologies in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary fields of research.

“It will be a singular honor to serve as the inaugural Allen and Elaine Avner Professor in Interdisciplinary Librarianship, and I am most appreciative of this opportunity to further my research into the novel ways libraries can apply technologies to better support interdisciplinary scholarship and pedagogy. This professorship recognizes the importance of multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approaches and will facilitate new and ongoing national and international collaborations, not only with library colleagues, but also with domain scholars in an array of disciplines. Looking beyond the parochial engenders more effective research and leads to outcomes that benefit not only our Library alone but also this campus and other research libraries and institutions more broadly,” said Cole. He added, “Truly an exciting opportunity!”

To read more, visit

5th Annual Library Research Showcase

The University Library presented the Library Research Showcase on April 10. The showcase highlighted recently completed and ongoing research within the Library through poster sessions and lightning talks, emphasizing its impact on the university, the professional disciplines of its many researchers, and beyond.

Topics included the digital humanities, diversity in preservation, library services for graduate students, topic space, and much more.

All of the Research Showcase presentation materials will be added to IDEALS, the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship, at

Visit the Library's online calendar at for the most up-to-date information about events happening in and around the libraries at Illinois, including the next Research Showcase!

What Illinois Faculty are Saying About the Library

Elyne Cole is the Associate Provost for Human Resources at Illinois. Elyne has more than 30 years of management experience on campus.

"50 years ago as a freshman, my Rhetoric instructor sent our class to the Library for an assignment. I went to the Main Library and learned that there were different libraries...inside the Library! Who knew there were so many different libraries? To my amazement, that building was full of many separate libraries with their own separate set of books and, on top of it, there were these wonderful people who helped me learn how to use the different resources in each of those libraries.

My instructor said, 'You can learn how to do anything you can think can be anything you can dream fact, you can now dream to be things you never even knew you could be, because you know how to use a Library. You now have the power of a library!'

He said that once you knew this, you would be opening the door to the world of information and would know where to find it and how to use it and with that, nothing would be out of our reach for learning or out of our reach for dreaming. That is the power of a library and there is no greater power than that of the Library at the University of Illinois.

I honestly believe this experience made a significant difference in my experience as a student and in my life and even now as an adult. I was exposed to higher learning in its truest sense.

The University Library plays such a special and unique role on our campus. Everybody converges on the Library and its resources in one form or another."

We would love to hear your thoughts about the role the Library may be playing in your research and teaching. Share your comments with Heather Murphy at With permission, the Library may include your feedback in some of its publications where appropriate. 

Meet Courtney Becks

Courtney Becks joined the Library in 2017. She came to the University of Illinois from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she held the position of American Indian Studies librarian. Becks has a background in journalism and American Studies. Her research interests include African American writing, art, and aesthetics; modern Jewish history; style/fashion; media; and material culture. She also has expertise in the emerging field of digital publishing.

Courtney is one of three ethnic studies subject specialists at the Library. As the African American studies librarian and Jewish studies selector, she supports the research of all faculty, staff, and students on campus with interests in any aspect of these fields; develops the collections; and provides reference assistance and library instruction. She is located in the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library in the Main Library.

Have questions? Need help? Connect with Courtney Becks at  

A Convenient Way to Make an Impact Today

Every day, you make an investment through your service to Illinois. By setting up payroll deduction directed to the areas you care most about on campus, you can have an even greater impact on the lives of all who are touched by the Illinois mission. 

Look for emails and a mailing from campus during the month of May. Please consider the University Library when making a gift. 

Visit the University Library's Office of Advancement website at


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