About the University of Chicago Library
Welcome to the University of Chicago Library
We put Library users at the center of all we do and are here to empower you with deep and rich collections, extensive expertise, innovative programs, and diverse spaces. We are committed to cultivating an inclusive community, enhancing access to scholarly resources, advancing digital scholarship, engaging locally and globally, and excelling in a changing environment. It is our mission to work with you in the pursuit of intellectual discovery, rigorous learning, and global engagement.
Whether you are on campus or working remotely, we encourage you to reach out to Library staff members to let us know how we can collaborate with you to advance and share knowledge, to innovate, and to build a better future. Wherever you are, the Library is with you.
Library Fact Sheet for 2022-23
By the Numbers
- 10th largest academic library in the United States
- 13.2 million volumes in print and electronic form
- 73,451 linear feet of archives and manuscripts (60,234 linear feet of archival and 13,216 of manuscript material)
- 304 terabytes of born-digital archives and digitized collections
- 103,940 print volumes circulated to 9,350 unique individuals, including 39,393 volumes that were made available through the Library’s Paging & Pickup service
- 7,401 rare books, manuscripts, and archives consulted in the Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center reading room
- 7.4 million electronic articles delivered
- 650,000 uses of electronic books
- 24,759 uses of streaming media
- 549,000 downloads of 5,173 items from the institutional repository Knowledge@UChicago
- 45,890 pageviews of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium’s archives portal
- 10,732 filled Scan & Deliver requests
- 7,476 requests filled from Big 10 libraries
- 7,398 requests filled from Ivy Plus libraries
- 10,249 other filled Interlibrary Loan requests
- 22,443 items on course reserve for 1,235 classes
- 8,594 questions to librarians
- 6,766 attendees at instructional sessions
- 1.1 million entries into Regenstein and 39,236 entries into Crerar by UChicago community members
- 12,848 passes provided to researchers unaffiliated with the University
- 2,506 unique researcher visits to the Special Collections reading room
- 1.7 million visits to the Library website
- 3,988 visits to 5 exhibitions in the gallery
- 251,000 unique visits to web exhibits
*Electronic resources usage and Association of Research Library ranking reflect data for 2022. All other numbers date from June 2023.
The University of Chicago Library system serves its users from six locations at the heart of campus, providing faculty and students with rapid access to its collections, research and study spaces, and diverse services.
- The John Crerar Library for science, medicine, and technology
- D’Angelo Law Library
- Eckhart Library for mathematics
- The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library
- The Joseph Regenstein Library for humanities, social sciences, business, and special collections
- The Social Work Library
Building New Connections in the Global Knowledge Environment
Learning in a rapidly changing environment, making field-defining discoveries, and addressing the world’s problems all depend on sharing knowledge and building new connections among people and information. Enabling this work in ways that are open and equitable has been a priority for the Library in 2022-23 and continues to be at the heart of our work in 2023-24. Below we describe a few of the ways we are making the global knowledge environment—the sum of all information that is publicly available digitally and physically—more open, interconnected, and discoverable.
Grants Support Open Access to Knowledge
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the University of Chicago nearly
$1 million to transform UChicago’s creation, stewardship, and delivery of digital collections and research data. Working together, the University of Chicago Library and Division of the Humanities will use the grant to build a new digital structure, UChicagoNode—the core of what will eventually be a network extending and enhancing the practice of digital research at UChicago and around the world. The University is committed to raising an additional $4 million to fulfill the vision for this project.
Treasure troves of more than 200 digital collections exist across the University, but they are found in a wide range of unconnected systems, including several hundred terabytes of digital content held at the Library. UChicagoNode will give researchers a single place to go to discover available digital collections through a unified, open access platform. It will provide a long-term home for content created as part of research and teaching at UChicago, contributed by partners from outside the University, and digitized by the Library. Future scholars will also benefit from UChicagoNode because it will provide an established infrastructure for a diverse range of digital collections and will break down barriers between traditionally siloed datasets. The collections will exist as datasets that can be used with machine analysis, natural language processing, spatial mapping, and other AI-based explorations.
Non-specialists often find it difficult to discover and locate such widely distributed information, and UChicagoNode will provide more intuitive ways to find and engage across these different digital collections. The easier access it will offer to UChicago resources will also strengthen the University’s community engagement and partnerships. The wealth of legacy collections at UChicago will be available in modern sustainable and accessible interfaces. Researchers new to the digital humanities will have guides and tools to help them begin.
Once this integrated infrastructure is in place, scholars researching the history of housing on the South Side of Chicago, for instance, could easily discover videos from the Guerrilla TV project on the demolition of Cabrini Green, digitized documents from the Ida B. Wells archival collection on the Chicago Housing Authority’s Ida B. Wells Homes, and historically relevant georeferenced maps from the NEH-funded Mapping Chicagoland project, which they could use to build data layers from their research in order to visualize urban change. Similarly, linguists could access UChicagoNode, for example, to investigate and analyze the use of verbs in a chosen semantic domain from a range of texts such as Sumerian myths to the Middle English narrative poem Piers Plowman to 19th-century French philosophical treatises.
UChicago Node expands our commitment to making knowledge openly accessible through other grant-funded projects such as GIS Librarians for Open Workflows. The University of Chicago Library was awarded a $133,992 National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to advance GIS librarianship. This grant was used to host national forums that are helping librarians to address increasingly diverse research questions. In collaboration with the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the project also aims to reshape the landscape of geospatial information services and open educational resources—materials that are freely available for the public to use, share, and build upon their content. These include textbooks, tutorials, guides, and other instructional material.
Artificial Intelligence and the Library, Now and in the Future
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have made headlines in the past year and promise to have a continuing impact on scholarship and the world we live in. The Library is partnering with colleagues across campus to discuss and research the rapid transformation of AI and its anticipated impact on higher education and society.
In Spring 2023, the Library advanced academic engagement around AI, making connections across University divisions by co-sponsoring four events that gave faculty, students, and visiting experts the opportunity to discuss these developments and their meaning for the future of learning, democracy, and human rights.
In Fall 2023, Dean Reimer began coordinating the University’s engagement in a two-year international research project committed to making AI generative for campus communities. Joining a group of universities convened by Ithaka S+R, partners in Making AI Generative for Higher Education will assess the immediate and emerging AI applications most likely to impact teaching, learning, and research and explore the long-term needs of institutions, instructors, and scholars as they navigate this environment.
Dean Reimer is working with Chief Information Officer Kevin Boyd, Dean of the College Melina Hale, Dean of Students in the University Michele Rasmussen, and Vice Provost for Research Erin Adams, to consider how these tools can contribute to field-changing research and a transformative education.
During the first year, the project will comprehensively review the areas of university activity most affected by this emerging technology. The project will kick-off with an assessment exercise where the cohort will gauge the readiness of their campuses to productively leverage generative AI technologies for teaching and research purposes. In parallel, Ithaka S+R will comprehensively review relevant technological, policy, service, and product developments and publish updates from the project’s initial activities by the end of 2023.
In winter 2024, the project will focus on gathering perspectives from those working with generative AI technologies in a variety of disciplines. Ithaka S+R and the participating universities will conduct semi-structured interviews with instructors and researchers, which will create the largest qualitative dataset to date on the higher education use-case. In 2024, the project will also release a public report to share the findings.
The project’s second year focuses on developing institution-specific strategies for each cohort member. To update our collective understanding of cutting-edge developments, the project will also publish an updated landscape review. During this phase the cohort will participate together in design workshops to surface areas for on-campus intervention. Each university partner will also create or revise their university’s campus-wide strategy statement on generative AI and develop and implement a preliminary plan for working with campus support to ensure broader implementation. At the conclusion of the project, Ithaka S+R will publish shared findings and observations from all three project phases, with input from the cohort.
Research Data Management/Sharing and Scholarly Information
UChicagoNode is part of a wider vision for placing the Library at the heart of scholarly information workflows across the University. One of the biggest challenges in this field is supporting faculty and students with management and sharing of data produced as part of their research. Research across all disciplines is dependent on digital tools and methods but produces often complex datasets, from climate simulations to recordings, 3D scans, patient records, demographic data, and much more.
To help address these challenges, Dean Reimer has proposed further integration of existing infrastructure across units and using a coordinated approach for service development and academic outreach. Based on this approach, Provost Baicker approved a new Committee on Research Data Management and Sharing that brings together core central services (IT Services, Library, Research Computing, and University Research Administration) with representatives from academic divisions to monitor funder requirements, assess the status quo and make recommendations for a coordinated support infrastructure. This new committee is chaired by Dean Reimer and staffed by Cecilia Smith, the Director of the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship. The committee has started work to document and assess the current infrastructure and collect user needs, to inform planning for infrastructure development.
Strengthening Our Organization
Library staff are essential to developing these workflows. Like many institutions across the country, the Library suffered from the “Great Resignation.” By fall 2022, the Library had lost over 25% of its staff since the start of the pandemic. This resulted in increasing pressure on staff remaining at the Library to cover additional responsibilities, but the losses were at such a level that even core services became limited. Activities such as training and new initiatives around research data, open access, and artificial intelligence were not possible during this period of time. With support from the Provost, the Library developed a hiring plan and successfully recruited more than 45 staff members. In the year ahead, the Library will continue to hire librarians (academic appointees) as well as administrative staff approved for recruitment during the hiring freeze. Additionally, the Library recently launched a new onboarding program to strengthen staff retention and effectiveness and is pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
New and incoming members of the Library’s Strategic Leadership Board in FY23 are Rachael Kotarski, Danielle McConnell, and Rhonda Owens. All three were selected from competitive fields of candidates, all bring a proven track record of success in their fields, and all have played key roles in diversity and inclusion initiatives at their respective institutions.
Rachael Kotarski has accepted the Library’s offer for the position of Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategy and Services. In this role, she will provide vision, leadership, and coordination for the digital services of the University of Chicago Library. Her arrival is anticipated in the new year. Most recently, Kotarski served as Head of Library Research Services at the University of Bath in England. There, she was responsible for teams and services for open access, research data, repositories, research analytics, and the University archive.
Kotarski started her career working on biomedical data services at Biomed Central, a scientific open access publisher. She subsequently joined the British Library for fifteen years holding progressively more senior positions, culminating in the position of Head of Research Infrastructure Services. There, she was responsible for the British Library’s repository services and institutional repository; its discovery services; its activities and services around open access, scholarly communications, and persistent identifiers; research data services including the national DataCite consortium; and digital collections and innovation projects with researchers and research organizations internationally.
A member of the Chinese-British community, she played a key role in enabling the British Library’s ambition to be an anti-racist organization by facilitating the data and insight services underpinning the cross-organizational anti-racism program.
Danielle McConnell joined the UChicago Library as Director of Community Engagement on September 18. This role will enable the Library to be an active partner in the President’s civic engagement agenda. McConnell will lead the development of the Library’s community engagement strategy and work across the Library and University to implement it in partnership.
Over the past nine years, McConnell has held a series of progressively responsible positions, culminating in the role of Senior Director of Program, at One Million Degrees (OMD)—a nonprofit with a mission to help launch community college students on career pathways to economic mobility. At OMD, McConnell oversaw and executed the organization’s $3 million signature program budget, partnered with all seven of the City Colleges of Chicago, created a college readiness and career planning curriculum, and oversaw the One Million Degrees Medical Assistant Pathway Program in partnership with Malcolm X College, local hospitals, and other community-based organizations.
McConnell is experienced with advocacy for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, including people with LGBTQ+, Black, and Brown identities and neurodivergent learners.
Rhonda Owens joined the Library as Associate Dean of Administration and Operations beginning on July 17. An established leader with a record of driving operational excellence and bringing cultural transformation across organizations, Owens oversees assessment, facilities, finance, and human resources departments and works across the Library to strengthen strategic planning and operations.
Owens comes to the Library from Rush University Medical Center, where she served as Assistant Dean of Strategic Operations, overseeing budget management, strategic planning and operations, regulatory compliance, and academic activities. She delivered streamlined operations and financial management at the Medical Center through a collaborative approach to developing and improving policies and procedures. Before taking on this role, she held a series of progressively senior roles at Rush until she became Director of Operations in 2014.
Owens has extensive experience in strategic planning and administrative operations. In addition to budget management, one of her areas of expertise is HR operations, including talent acquisition, employee relations, and compensation. Owens has a track record in process improvement, coaching, and diversity and inclusion initiatives in support of organizational mission.
Expanding Access to Banned Books Amid National Debate over Censorship
UChicago marked Banned Books Week on October 3, 2023, by announcing an effort to collect books banned in the U.S. The American Library Association reports that censorship attempts at libraries are on pace to set a record for the third straight year. In the first eight months of 2023, the ALA recorded challenges to 1,915 unique titles, a 20% increase over challenges during a comparable period in 2022. Books written by or about people of color or members of the LGBTQIA+ community made up the vast majority of such challenges. UChicago’s expansion of access to banned books is intended to help address this trend, lower barriers to sharing information, and support open inquiry and discourse.
The University of Chicago Library has launched an effort to build a comprehensive collection of books banned across the U.S. Items in the collections at Regenstein, Mansueto and Crerar libraries can be consulted by members of the public free of charge, in-person with a visitor pass. Most can be checked out by UChicago patrons and can be borrowed by readers at other libraries through interlibrary loan.
The banned book collection is intended to be a valuable tool for researchers seeking to understand book bans across the United States, providing a way for the public to engage with banned books. The UChicago Library already owns approximately 25% of a list of more than 1,500 books that have been banned from libraries across the U.S. and aims to rapidly build and maintain a complete collection.
To expand digital access to banned books for those who cannot conveniently visit Hyde Park, the UChicago Library is collaborating with the Digital Public Library of America on two initiatives. First, the UChicago Library plans to fund online access to banned ebooks for all Illinois residents for at least a year through DPLA’s recently launched Banned Book Club on the Palace e-reader app.
Second, the UChicago Library will partner with DPLA to increase online access to books in the communities where they are banned by expanding agreements with publishers. DPLA’s Banned Book Club uses GPS-based geolocation to facilitate access to books that are banned where the app user is currently located. The Banned Book Club includes access to more than 900 titles that have been the target of bans in communities nationwide. By partnering with UChicago Library they will strive to offer access to nearly all the approximately 1,500 titles that have been banned.