About the Library

The University of Chicago Library

Library Director and University Librarian: Brenda L. Johnson

As a center of intense intellectual inquiry, the University of Chicago Library shares with the University of Chicago the aspiration to be the most dynamic research and learning environment in the world, supporting the University’s commitment to research and teaching in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the College and to using its intellectual resources to help solve the world’s problems.

Even as building and preserving collections continue to be critical commitments of the Library, we are assuming new roles that are vital to research, innovation, and learning at the University of Chicago.  In doing so, we are leveraging the deep expertise of the Library staff, are developing services that support new avenues of research, and are expanding access to and preservation of scholarly resources in ways that advance the goals of the University community and the needs of the next generation of scholars.

By the Numbers, 2015-2016


  • 10th largest research library in North America
  • 11.3 million volumes in print and electronic form
  • 62,300 linear feet of archives and manuscripts
  • 153 terabytes of born-digital archives, digitized collections, and research data

Collection Use

  • 226,175 print volumes circulated to 12,978 unique individuals
  • 8.0 million electronic articles delivered
  • 1.7 million uses of electronic books


  • 19,701 filled Scan & Deliver requests
  • 13,196 filled UBorrow requests from Big 10 libraries
  • 15,186 filled BorrowDirect requests from Ivy Plus libraries
  • 18,855 filled interlibrary loan requests
  • 35,691 items on course reserve for 1,586 classes
  • 18,874 questions to librarians
  • 8,979 attendees at training sessions


  • 1.2 million entries into Regenstein and 139,974 entries into Crerar
  • 41,759 visits by researchers unaffiliated with the University
  • 2.1 million visits to the Library website
  • 774,837 visits to the Library Catalog

*Library ranking is based on the most recent data available (2014/2015) from the Association of Research Libraries. All other data date from June 2016.


The Library builds and preserves outstanding research collections that support the present and future needs of its faculty, students, and staff. Forty-five percent of the Library’s collections are in languages other than English, supporting faculty research with a global impact and making the Library a mecca for international scholars.

The Special Collections Research Center is home to the Library’s rare books, manuscripts, and the University of Chicago Archives. Highlights include:
  • A comprehensive collection of print editions of Homer’s work
  • The Goodspeed New Testament Manuscript Collection
  • The Ludwig Rosenberger Library of Judaica
  • Editorial files of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse
  • The Chicago Jazz Archive
  • The John Crerar Collection of Rare Books in the History of Science and Medicine
  • Papers of Saul Bellow, Enrico Fermi, Harriet Monroe, Ida B. Wells, Edward Levi, Ronald Coase, and S. Chandrasekhar
  • Business archives and printing samples of RR Donnelley

The Library is a leading advocate of digitization as a method of preservation and has created 94 digitized collections that are accessible online, with items ranging from medieval manuscripts to early editions of Chopin scores to maps of Chicago before and after the Great Chicago Fire.

Campus Libraries

The University of Chicago Library serves its users from 6 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
  • Social Services Administration Library

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library was opened at the heart of campus in 2011. Designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn, the Mansueto Library has been recognized with a Distinguished Building Citation of Merit by the American Institute of Architects’ Chicago chapter and a Patron of the Year Award by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. It features a soaring elliptical glass dome capping a 180-seat Grand Reading Room, state-of-the-art conservation and digitization laboratories, and an underground high-density automated storage and retrieval system with the capacity to store 3.5 million volumes. The Mansueto Library speeds scholarly productivity by allowing for the retrieval of materials in a median time of 3 minutes through use of robotic cranes.

Library Strategic Directions, 2016-2019

Below are five strategic directions the Library will pursue for 2016-19, and selected services and initiatives we are undertaking in pursuit of those directions.  These areas of emphasis will allow us to build on the Library’s historic strengths, while innovating to expand the Library’s role as a hub that connects UChicago faculty, students, and staff in the exchange of information and the creation of knowledge.

1.  Evolving in a Changing Environment

The Library is embracing continuously evolving higher education and information environments by shaping an agile, creative, and responsive organization that supports experimentation, risk-taking, and bold thinking. 

  • Library residency program: The Library is building a new resident librarian program in order to expand staff expertise in new and rapidly developing areas of librarianship such as online learning, user experience, and GIS (geographic information systems), allowing us to offer innovative services that support the evolving needs of faculty and students.
  • Information literacy instructor training: The Library hosted a customized version of the Association of College and Research Libraries’ respected Information Literacy Immersion Program, an intensive training course designed to help librarians develop effective research instruction programs for the communities they serve. In September 2015, 34 UChicago Library staff members participated in a 3-day retreat focusing on learning theory, instructional design, effective classroom techniques, and the assessment of students. The program has led to further professional development programming for our librarians who teach.
  • Collections partnerships: The Library is identifying and building local, regional, national, and international partnerships that strengthen its ability to deliver comprehensive collections and innovative and effective services.  Currently, the Library participates in two consortial borrowing programs:  UBorrow for material in the collections of the Big 10 university libraries; and BorrowDirect for material in the collections of the Ivy League, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Duke university libraries.
  • The Library is leveraging its membership in the Ivy Plus Consortium not only to obtain rapid access to the collections of the Ivy Plus libraries but also to promote efforts to collaboratively build collections that more effectively support the research endeavors of faculty and students in all the participating universities.
  • A Day in the Life Mapping Project: Using applied ethnographic methods developed for academic libraries, 6 academic medical libraries led by UChicago’s John Crerar Library investigated how third-year medical students seek and use information in the course of daily activities. The study focused in particular on the ways that the students seek, evaluate, and use medical information in the context of patient care and clinical decision making.
  • Ithaka S+R Survey: The Library administered and analyzed results from the 2015 Ithaka S+R survey of UChicago graduate and professional school students in order to learn more about their educational and pre-professional needs. A slightly revised version of the Ithaka S+R survey will be administered to all currently enrolled undergraduates in winter quarter 2017 in order to understand their perceptions of the Library in the context of their experience on the campus.

2.  Empowering Faculty and Students

The Library is implementing innovative services and reimagining collections and spaces both to exceed faculty and students’ expectations and to advance ongoing and emerging University priorities for research, teaching, and learning. 

  • Tailored instruction for courses: In collaboration with faculty, librarians provide tailored instruction for courses to teach students about the critical use of information resources. Library sessions highlight the rich digital and print collections available for use in assignments and research projects. In addition, our librarians support online learning through webinars and by designing help guides, video tutorials, and digital assignments focusing on research skills and Library services.
  • Legal research instruction: Law librarians instruct students in first-year and advanced legal research and writing courses.  
  • Specialized point-of-need services: Librarians provide point-of-need services to students in a wide range of fields and locations, such as medical students on clinical rounds at the hospital, law students preparing for interviews with prospective employers, and students at Chicago Booth working on new product development with executives at major companies. D’Angelo Law Library staff also provide support for a wide range of legal clinics that give law students hands-on experience addressing real-world legal issues, such as the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab, the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, the International Human Rights Clinic, the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic, and the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship.  Students and faculty are also able to schedule consultations with librarians for personalized in-depth research assistance.
  • TECHB@R: A partnership between the Library and IT Services provides walk-up support for IT issues, equipment loans, and joint training on the first floor of Regenstein Library.
  • Exhibitions: The Special Collections Research Center presents 4-5 gallery exhibitions a year, with associated web exhibits. Faculty, students, and alumni are invited to curate exhibitions that engage the public in an exploration of scholarly subjects, illustrated by the Library’s rare and unique materials. Additional exhibits at the John Crerar Library and on the upper floors of Regenstein explore topics of current interest and highlight strengths in the Library’s collections. 
  • GRAD Writing Room: A joint project of UChicagoGRAD and the Library, the GRAD writing room provides a quiet, dedicated writing space for graduate students working on dissertation proposals, dissertations, and fellowship applications.

3.  Advancing Digital Scholarship

The Library is increasing the scholarly impact of the University by building robust services and technology infrastructures to support emerging modes of research, innovation, and scholarship.

  • Data acquisition and management: Librarians assist faculty in acquiring or creating text and data corpora to support their research, and support research grant applications by helping them address funder requirements for data management plans, for access policies, and for data deposit.
  • Technical infrastructure for faculty research: The Library provides technical infrastructure for faculty research such as the OCHRE Data Service in the Oriental Institute, and the ARTFL Project (Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language).
  • Knowledge@UChicago: The Library is leading an initiative with IT Services and the Research Computing Center to build a digital repository to preserve and share the scholarly, creative, and administrative assets of the University.  Knowledge@UChicago launched in summer 2016.
  • Chicago Unbound: An online repository for scholarship by the Law School faculty was developed by the D’Angelo Law Library and the Law School’s Communications Department and launched in 2014. It unites the record of scholarship produced at the Law School in one online platform, making it accessible to a world audience. Visitors have downloaded more than 1.2 million publications to date.

4.  Enhancing Access to Scholarly Resources

The Library is enhancing access to information resources by offering improved tools and services.

  • OLE: The UChicago Library is a founding partner in the Open Library Environment, an open source, community based library management system. OLE is the first system designed by and for academic and research libraries to manage and deliver scholarly information. In Summer 2014, UChicago became one of the first two universities to launch OLE.
  • Library Catalog: The Library is enhancing a new catalog that supports discovery of traditional library materials while also providing access to new services, such as Scan & Deliver, and links to external collections such as HathiTrust, so that patrons have a central hub for exploring the widest variety of resources available to them.
  • Library website: The Library launched a new website in July 2016 that is easier to browse and navigate and optimized for both desktop and mobile use.  The site provides streamlined access to search tools for articles, journals, and databases, and connects related collections, tools, and experts, making it easier for users to take advantage of the wealth of information and services offered by the Library.

5.  Collaborating to Extend the University’s Impact

The Library is collaborating with on- and off-campus partners to extend the impact of the Library and the University.

  • Google Books Project: The UChicago Library has completed a partnership with Google, through the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, to digitize selected collections.
  • HathiTrust: The UChicago Library participates in a partnership of more than 100 major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. The HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform, provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including those digitized by Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives. 
  • Chicago Collections: The UChicago Library is a major partner with other universities, libraries, and museums in the creation of a new online portal, Explore Chicago Collections, which documents the rich history and culture of the Chicago region and facilitates access to archival collections about Chicago for both researchers and the general public.
  • The Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC): The BMRC is a Chicago-based membership association of libraries, universities, and other archival institutions that documents and makes accessible collections relating to African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with a specific focus on materials relating to Chicago. UChicago serves as the current host institution of the BMRC with the Library providing oversight of the staff and technical infrastructure for the collaboration.
  • Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships: Since 2006, the Library has awarded 95 fellowships to visiting researchers from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Canada, and Mexico to support work on projects that require on-site consultation of Library archives, manuscripts, or printed materials.
  • The Library is providing access and/or borrowing privileges to local educators connected with the Civic Knowledge Project, to students enrolled in the international baccalaureate program at the Hyde Park Academy, to teachers and AP students at Kenwood Academy, to La Rabida Children’s Hospital researchers, to public school students sponsored by the Office of Civic Engagement, to teachers and selected students at the Orthogenic School, to artists connected with the Washington Park Arts Incubator, and to teachers and students connected with the UChicago Charter Woodlawn campus.