About the University of Chicago Library

Library Director and University Librarian: Brenda L. Johnson


The University of Chicago Library empowers intellectual discovery, rigorous learning, and global engagement through its deep and rich collections, extensive expertise, innovative programs, and diverse spaces.


Diversity: A diverse and inclusive environment builds a stronger, more creative community.

User focus: Our users are at the center of all we do.

Innovation: We embrace curiosity, experimentation, and learning.

Collaboration: We advance knowledge and build a better future through partnerships.

Knowledge Sharing: Open and equitable access to information is a cornerstone of research and education.

Diversity and Inclusion Statement

The University of Chicago Library believes that a diverse and inclusive environment builds a stronger, more creative community where we broaden approaches to our work and make better decisions. We encourage open and honest discussion, reflect on our assumptions, and actively seek viewpoints beyond our own. We welcome different perspectives as they challenge and motivate us to learn and respect the uniqueness that we each bring to our shared endeavors.

By the Numbers


  • 9th largest academic library in North America
  • 12.3 million volumes in print and electronic form
  • 67,724 linear feet of archives and manuscripts
  • 247 terabytes of born-digital archives, digitized collections, and research data

Collection Use

  • 175,517 print volumes circulated to 12,466 unique individuals
  • 6.2 million electronic articles delivered
  • 1.1 million uses of electronic books


  • 17,083 filled Scan & Deliver requests
  • 19,473 filled UBorrow requests from Big 10 libraries
  • 16,922 filled BorrowDirect requests from Ivy Plus libraries
  • 6,850 other filled interlibrary loan requests
  • 29,668 items on course reserve for 1,365 classes
  • 14,986 questions to librarians
  • 9,075 attendees at training sessions


  • 1.3 million entries into Regenstein and 55,839 entries into Crerar
  • 20,860 visits by researchers unaffiliated with the University
  • 1.7 million visits to the Library website
  • 748,950 visits to the Library catalog

*Library ranking is based on the most recent data available (for 2018) from the Association of Research Libraries. All other data date from June 2019.


The Library builds and preserves research collections that support the present and future needs of its faculty, students, and staff. Thirty-nine 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 works
  • 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 or medals of 21 Nobel Prize winners such as Enrico Fermi, Saul Bellow, S. Chandrasekhar, Ronald H. Coase, George Stigler, and James Cronin; papers of Harriet Monroe, Ida B. Wells, and Edward H. Levi.
  • Business archives and printing samples of RR Donnelley
  • The John Maloof Collection of Vivian Maier

Notable Special Collections acquisitions in 2018-19 include the rare book collection of Graham School graduate Robert Connors; papers of University President Hanna H. Gray and Charles M. Gray and of faculty members Roger Hildebrand, Peter Freund, and Edward Laumann; papers of University Trustee Irving B. Harris and records of the Irving Harris Foundation; and a substantial addition to the John Maloof Collection of Vivian Maier.

The Library digitizes its own collections in order to provide greater access, preserve at-risk materials, and enable new forms of digital scholarship. One hundred subject-based collections, 44 archival collections, and 110 early manuscripts have been made accessible online, with items ranging from 4th century Egyptian manuscripts to early editions of the Maroon student newspaper to maps of Chicago before and after the Great Chicago Fire. Many more individual titles are available via our Library catalog and through our participation in the international digital preservation repository, HathiTrust.

Campus Libraries

The University of Chicago Library 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
  • 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. 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, FY 2020-2023

The Library has recently adopted new Strategic Directions for FY 2020-2023:

  1. Cultivate an Inclusive Community
  2. Empower Faculty and Students with Library Services, Collections, and Spaces
  3. Advance Digital Scholarship
  4. Enhance Access to Scholarly Resources
  5. Extend the University’s Impact through Local and Global Engagement
  6. Excel in a Changing Environment

For more information about our new Strategic Directions and the strategies we will use to pursue them, visit https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/about/thelibrary/mission/.

Library Strategic Directions, 2016-2019

Below are five strategic directions the Library pursued for years 2016-19, and selected services and initiatives undertaken in pursuit of those directions in FY’19. These areas of emphasis have allowed us to build on the Library’s historical 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.

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 Academic Alliance university libraries; and BorrowDirect for material in the collections of the Ivy League, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Duke, and Stanford university libraries. The Library is leveraging its membership in the Ivy Plus Confederation 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.

Polsky Exchange: Business and Economics librarians are providing research consultation services to entrepreneurs who are members of UChicago’s Polsky Exchange, advising them on how to access the market, industry, and product research they need to develop their business plans. This includes learning to define a target market through consumer demographics and market research as well as define competition by helping to locate company information and industry analysis.

GIS Hub: The Library’s GIS Hub opened to the campus community this winter on the first floor of the newly renovated Crerar Library, intersecting with the new Media Arts, Data, and Design Center. Eight workstations in the Hub offer GIS software, including QGIS, GeoDa, and ArcGIS. Large, high-resolution monitors allow detailed visualization work. Our GIS/Map Librarian supports faculty and students through consultations on gathering and exploring geospatial data, spatial literacy, and visualizing geographic information. She also offers workshops on using GIS data and getting started with the software.

Professional Development: Librarians pursue professional development opportunities that focus on critical skills and expertise needed today and in the future. Many of our librarians are building new skills through participation in the development of the new open-source library management system FOLIO and in resource sharing programs with the Big Ten Academic Alliance and Ivy Plus universities. They actively engaged in educational opportunities across the country on topics such as data management for librarians, instruction assessment, copyright, applying liaison skills to research data and digital literacy, instruction and outreach for international students, inclusive pedagogy, the evolving nature of reference work, and ways of supporting faculty in teaching information literacy skills to students. In-house training sessions at the Library focused on a variety of topics including OpenStreetMap, an open source platform widely used for humanitarian mapping projects; social sciences data archive and training offerings available through ICPSR; and resources for evaluating personal investments. The Instruction and Outreach Steering Committee is conducting a peer observation program to improve teaching by librarians, and the UChicago Library hosted the 2019 Great Lakes Science Boot Camp.

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 instructors through designing custom help guides and assignments that focus on research skills and Library services.

Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian: The Library has created a new position for a Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian, which was filled by David Woken beginning on July 1, 2019. Woken will provide research services such as consultations and customized instruction for faculty, students and staff, as well as developing the library collection for Latin America. He will use his experience with digital projects to collaboratively develop services supporting new types of scholarship in Latin American studies.

Health and Social Services Librarian: The Library hired a new Health and Social Services Librarian in August 2019. Holiday Vega manages the Social Services Administration Library, which includes 39,000 titles in all aspects of social services, social welfare, and social work, and provides research, teaching, and learning services to faculty, students, and staff in SSA and the Department of Psychology, as well as nursing and psychiatry in the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Teaching: Law librarians instruct students in first-year and advanced legal research and writing courses. Other librarians teach a variety of classes, including a new Introduction to Data Management class open to the campus community.

Social Sciences Research Center: Librarians with specialties in social science and digital scholarship collaborated with the Social Sciences Research Center this summer, creating a specialized Research Lifecycle workshop for undergraduates in the Summer Institute in Social Research Methods. Librarians provided workshops including Starting Your Research: Using Social Media, Licensed Datasets, Open-Access Data; Data Management 101; Project Management Fundamentals; An Introduction to Copyright and Fair Use; Starting Your Research: Best Practices for Finding and Using Library Resources.

Specialized Point-of-Need Services: Librarians provide point-of-need services to faculty and 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 Chicago Booth faculty and students teaching and taking business and economics courses in Hyde Park. D’Angelo Law Library staff also provide support for the Law School’s 18 legal clinics that give law students hands-on experience addressing real-world legal issues in transactional, litigation, and law policy practice. Students and faculty are also able to schedule consultations with librarians for personalized in-depth research assistance.

Career Advancement: Librarians provide a wide variety of career-related services, from the Graduate Career Development Resources Collection, to training career advisors at UChicago Grad in career research, to a business librarian being embedded in the Trott Business Program providing company and industry research instruction to all participants, working with the History Department on workshops and events designed to increase the marketability of PhD students.

Support for Fellowship Applicants: The Library is collaborating with UChicagoGRAD and the College Center for Research and Fellowships on programming and new services to support applicants for national fellowships (Fulbright, Truman, Mellon Mays, etc.), along with teaching students skills necessary for developing successful research proposals, including developing research plans and identifying archives and collections abroad.

The Hanna Holborn Gray Graduate Student Fellowships: This new Library program launched in Winter 2019 with support from President Emeritus Gray is giving UChicago graduate students opportunities to expand their professional horizons and enhance their development as scholars. Fellows learn about careers in academic libraries and archives through hands-on work conducted under the mentorship of a UChicago librarian, while simultaneously pursuing their individual research and teaching interests. The first seven fellows each focused on distinct areas from digital scholarship and global information system mapping to archival work, web exhibits, and metadata.

College Student Success: In collaboration with the University’s Center for College Student Success, the Library has developed specialized programming to help first-generation, undocumented, and low-income students through specialized workshops and orientations, such as those for the Odyssey Scholars.

TechBar and One Button Studio: A partnership between the Library and IT Services provides walk-up support for IT issues, equipment loans, and workshops in a joint training space on the first floor of Regenstein Library and an easy-to-use video studio that allows users to produce high quality video in two simple steps on the A Level.

Exhibitions: The Special Collections Research Center presents three or more gallery exhibitions a year, with associated web exhibits. Faculty, students, and alumni are among the guest curators for these exhibitions that engage the public in an exploration of scholarly subjects, illustrated by the Library’s rare and unique materials and general collections. Additional exhibits in Regenstein curated by librarians 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 leads an initiative with IT Services to maintain and expand a digital repository that preserves and shares the scholarly, creative, and administrative assets of the University. Knowledge@UChicago is now home to research articles, dissertations, and locally published journals and has begun to accept scholarly datasets to ensure that research is citable, reusable, and archived for the long-term. The Library is now developing processes that will allow researchers to automate their deposits into Knowledge@UChicago so that it can become an integral part of their research workflow.

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 5.2 million publications to date.

Center for Digital Scholarship: The Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship provides services that facilitate the analysis of complex data, the visualization of theoretical and spatial relationships, and the sharing and preservation of research results. The Library has begun planning for a new space for the CDS on the first floor of Regenstein Library that will provide state-of-the-art technologies and support scholarly exploration and collaboration.

Digitization: This year the Library completed the digitization of the Office of the President’s records from the Harper, Judson, and Burton administrations and the Charles Richmond Henderson Papers. We also have begun several new projects including the University of Chicago Board of Trustees Minutes (currently digitized from 1890-1926), Office of the President Mason Administration Records, and the University of Chicago Convocation Programs (1893-2016), and continued the digitization of the Early Western Manuscripts and the Islamic Lithograph Collection.

Web Exhibits: In FY’19 the Library added 16 new web exhibits so that a total of 78 exhibits are now publicly accessible around the world.

4. Enhancing Access to Scholarly Resources

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

Library Catalog: The Library provides a catalog that supports discovery of traditional library materials while also providing access to new services, such as Scan & Deliver. Innovative use of dynamic linking technologies allow us to enhance the catalog with links to external collections such as HathiTrust and enriched information such as tables of contents, so that patrons have a central hub for exploring the widest variety of resources available to them.

Library Website: The Library’s website 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. The Library’s user experience librarian and web design specialists ensure that the Library website is designed to meet the needs of the faculty, students, and staff and that it meets current web accessibility standards in order to facilitate use by patrons with disabilities.

FOLIO: The Library is participating in a community-driven initiative to develop a next-generation, open-source library management system that will support our acquisitions, cataloging, and circulation operations. The project is remarkable for the breadth and depth of the partnership, including peer institutions, libraries and consortia from around the globe, and commercial library vendors.

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.

HathiTrust: The UChicago Library participates in a partnership of more than 120 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 an 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. UChicago Special Collections holdings on the site include 356 finding aids and 1078 images.

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. The BMRC hosts visiting scholars and manages an internship program that provides students experience in the archival profession. In 2019 the BMRC received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop its Collections Portal, which provides access to the archival collections of its member institutions, and to create a community outreach program to educate future donors and archivists about the importance of collecting, preserving, and documenting Black experiences in Chicago.

Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships: Since 2006, the Library has awarded 137 fellowships to visiting researchers from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, and Russia to support work on projects that require on-site consultation of Library archives, manuscripts, or printed materials.

The Library has arranged access and/or borrowing privileges for local educators connected with the Civic Knowledge Project, for students enrolled in the international baccalaureate program at the Hyde Park Academy, for teachers and AP students at Kenwood Academy, for La Rabida Children’s Hospital researchers, for public school students sponsored by the Office of Civic Engagement, for teachers and selected students at the Orthogenic School, for artists connected with the Washington Park Arts Incubator, and for teachers and students connected with the UChicago Charter Woodlawn campus.