Special Collections opens renovated spaces

The Special Collections Research Center opened its newly renovated spaces to faculty, students and visiting researchers on March 28. Library users were welcomed back into the Reading Room and classrooms at Special Collections’ new regular opening time of 9 a.m.

Reading Room
Special Collections Reading Room

The construction of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library created a need for renovation of Special Collections and provided an opportunity to improve the visibility and functionality of the space. Construction of the pathway from within Regenstein to Mansueto eliminated Special Collections’ former exhibition gallery and two offices. The renovation addresses the impact of this construction, improves research and instructional spaces, and enhances Special Collections’ visibility and accessibility.

As part of the renovation, Special Collections’ classroom has been upgraded to include a computer, projector and screen, and speakers. Classroom acoustics have been improved, and new chairs and tables can be configured to accommodate small and large classes and use of oversized materials.

Special Collections Group Study
Students examine materials in one of two Special Collections group studies

A second group study room has been added to the space. It will serve increasing demand from faculty, students and researchers to consult with one another on class assignments, to work together on research projects, to examine very large items, and to hear and view digitized audio and video resources.

The renovation also enhances service in Special Collections by locating offices for two Readers Services librarians on the first floor, where they are readily accessible to researchers and by expanding the space where materials are held on reserve for researchers. The director’s and associate director’s offices have been moved to a new part of the first floor from their previous location, which is now part of the pathway from Regenstein to Mansueto.

Printer's mark - Daniel Berkeley Updike
Printer's mark - Daniel Berkeley Updike

Opposite the entrance to Special Collections, visitors will now see a set of newly installed lead silhouette printers’ marks that were received with the gift of the R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive to the University in 2005 and 2007. The trademarks, representing influential printers, publishers, typographers and designers from the 15th through the 20th century, were originally installed in RR Donnelley’s 1929 Calumet Plant at Cermak Road and King Drive. Designed by Chicago architect and artist Edgar Miller, they are believed to have been produced at the D’Ascenzo Studios in Philadelphia along with other ornamental glass for the building.

These lead silhouette printers’ marks are now installed along the pathway to Mansueto Library opposite the entrance to the new Exhibition Gallery and Special Collections. The restoration and installation of the RR Donnelley lead silhouette printers’ marks were supported by gifts from Shawn M. Donnelley and Christopher M. Kelly and the RR Donnelley Foundation.

The new 2,384 square foot Exhibition Gallery located on the pathway between the Regenstein Library and the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library will open on May 9. It includes state-of-the art environmental controls, programmable lighting and the capacity for audio and video media. Eight movable, custom-designed cases of varying dimensions can be used with rectangular or sloped vitrines. Four have removable, L-shaped decks with removable backs, and three pedestal cases provide space to highlight individual pieces. An enclosed glass case 36 feet long by 3.5 feet deep across the back wall can accommodate large graphic materials and six pedestal cases for individual pieces.

The Gallery will open with its first exhibit: “Firmness, Commodity, and Delight: Architecture in Special Collections.” Drawing on a wide range of rare books, manuscripts, archives, and graphic materials elucidating the history of architectural practice, this exhibition will be presented in conjunction with a Chicago city-wide program, “500 Years of the Illustrated Architecture Book,” marking the 500th anniversary of the publication of the first illustrated book on architecture, Fra Giovanni Giocondo’s 1511 edition of Vitruvius’s De Architectura libri decem.

Photos by Michael Kenny