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Fall 2018 | Volume 20 | Number 1
In This Issue
Note from the Dean
 Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

I recently celebrated my fifth anniversary at the Library, and I am pleased to say that the Library is thriving, with redoubled campus support for our magnificent collections, and generous support from you and our alumni. In the last Compendium, I wrote to you about 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. Planning for that work has begun in earnest. You may have seen news about the Library’s building project, including the website intended to communicate plans and gather information. Recently, I also invited you, our faculty, to small group sessions to help shape the space in ways that will be beneficial to the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences. Those sessions are also listed here.

The Library’s building project will address some pressing issues, including challenges presented by the older stacks, but should also help create a remarkable new resource for the University. We are making the strongest possible commitment to our extraordinary collections: they will not be diminished, and they will be more accessible than ever before. We hope to create a new model of research library, an institute for disciplines in the liberal arts, helping us to amplify efforts like the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. I am looking forward to engaging you in shaping this work.

Also in the last Compendium, we shared news about our acquisition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Opus Galli Anonymi (Work of an Anonymous Frenchman), in which Newton translates a work from French into Latin as part of his alchemical studies in his attempt to create the philosopher’s stone. I am pleased to announce that you will have two chances to see the manuscript in person in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library on November 2nd and November 16th (see below). After these public showings, the manuscript will be retired for an extended period of conservation treatment, so I urge you to take advantage of this special opportunity.

Library Announces Plans for a Library of the Future
Main Library Renovations Proposed

The University Library has announced plans to re-design the Main Library. The proposal involves the re-envisioning of Library spaces, including the creation of a new research hub focused on a substantial library collection with lecture rooms, collaboration space, and services to enrich the learning experience of students, along with a dedicated home for the Library’s special collections.

The highlighted area of the Main Library (right) represents the space envisioned for a new research hub.


Trial Access to ProQuest Electronic Resources

The University Library recently completed a licensing arrangement with ProQuest to secure three years of access to 115 electronic resources that touch on the humanities, music and the arts, the social sciences, and some scientific disciplines. There are newspapers, government documents, digitized books and journals, scanned microform sets, streaming videos, and recorded sound collections.

This trial access is part of a project ProQuest is piloting with a number of different schools. The Urbana campus has access to this expanded list of ProQuest resources through August 31, 2021.

More information will be posted on the Library’s website at, or contact a librarian to answer questions about specific resources.

The Library's Commitment to Retaining its Print Collection

From the earliest calls by President James to build a million volume collection at the University of Illinois, the University Library has been viewed as a means of collecting and delivering resources to faculty and students that would help to make this campus one of the premier research institutions in the nation. The legacy of that call to build a robust and vibrant collection is a body of materials that now numbers well over 14 million volumes and millions of manuscripts and other resources. Today, approximately 10.5 million of those volumes are printed books and journals representing approximately 5.95 million unique titles.

Over the last decade, the University Library – like all other research libraries – dedicated a growing percentage of its acquisition and collection development effort to purchases of electronic content. Of course, we continue to purchase print materials, too. While we acquire ebooks, our subject specialists regularly acquire printed copies where appropriate. Similarly, we purchase materials requested directly by faculty and students, whether through requests submitted via email and online forms or through a largely seamless patron-initiated acquisition program. And, we leverage a combination of state, gift, and endowment funding to acquire extraordinary collections, as well, including the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers and the recently announced Newton manuscript.

With all this in mind, how has the University Library sought to secure the future of our rich print collection? Read more...

The Library's Collection Management Practices

Over the last decade, the Library engaged in a number of activities geared toward rethinking the Library’s space on campus and how services are provided to our patrons. Critical to that effort was the availability of space for the storage of our collections and the personnel, practices, and policies that allowed us to effectively manage collections while being respectful of scholarly needs on campus.

As to space, the Library was a very different organization in the year 2000. Nearly 90% of our materials expenditures were dedicated to printed titles then. The shift of acquisitions from print to electronic delivery during the following years (a response, in part, to changes both in the publishing industry and patron demand) significantly changed the volume of physical material that entered the building. However, it did not change the fact that decades of acquisition without building adequate storage left the Library managing collections in the Main Stacks that often exceeded 150% of capacity in places. It did not address decades of accumulated backlogs in general collections, the cramped quarters in departmental libraries and reading rooms, or the quantity of duplication within the collections. Read more about Spaces & Personnel and Policies & Practices...

"Newton Unveiled: From Original to Digital" Special Event
November 16, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Join The Rare Book & Manuscript Library for a public viewing of Sir Isaac Newton’s “Opus Galli Anonymi.” This exciting manuscript, acquired through a generous gift from Library Friends Jim and Lionelle Elsesser, is Newton’s Latin translation of a French work on making the philosopher’s stone, with corrections and notes by the mathematician based on his own scientific work. The digital version of the manuscript will also be unveiled and remarks given from Gregory S. Girolami, The William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor of Chemistry, at this special event. Read more...

What Illinois Faculty are Saying About the Library

Brent W. Roberts is a professor of psychology and the director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Initiative (SBSRI). When asked about renovating the Main Library to become a hub for research and collaboration in the humanities and social sciences, Professor Roberts said:

"In many ways, the social sciences serve as an intellectual and physical center to the University of Illinois. Intellectually, they not only work together across traditional social science divides, like psychology to education or social work to information sciences, but also help to connect far-flung units like engineering, the life sciences, the arts, and the humanities. Physically, the social sciences occupy the center of the university, surrounding the main quad and south quad. To have a central space within the physical footprint of the social sciences would provide opportunities for integrative, and synthetic activities for the social sciences themselves and would serve to bolster the intellectual bridges being built to other disciplines around campus."

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 Elisandro (Alex) Cabada

Elisandro (Alex) Cabada is the Medical and Bioengineering Librarian at Illinois, and a liaison to the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine as well as the Bioengineering Department. His time at the University Library began in the History, Newspaper and Philosophy Library as a student assistant in 2000. Alex went on to join the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center staff in 2007; he helped develop the Innovation, Discovery, DEsign, and DAta Laboratory (IDEA Lab), a digital scholarship center.

Prior to his time at Illinois, Alex served as the Engineering and Innovation Librarian at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities where he developed the Walter Library Breakerspace, a “technology-rich” center with the goal of lowering barriers to access to emerging technologies for underserved and underrepresented communities. His research interests include the preparedness of STEM students entering the workforce and the intersection of emerging technologies and innovation in academic libraries.

Alex is located in the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center.

Have questions? Need help? Connect with Alex Cabada 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. Please consider the University Library when making a gift. 

Visit the University Library's Office of Advancement website at


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