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, 2016-2017


  • 10th largest research library in North America
  • 11.6 million volumes in print and electronic form
  • 63,800 linear feet of archives and manuscripts
  • 178 terabytes of born-digital archives, digitized collections, and research data

Collection Use

  • 208,941 print volumes circulated to 12,516 unique individuals
  • 7.0 million electronic articles delivered
  • 1.4 million uses of electronic books


  • 17,880 filled Scan & Deliver requests
  • 11,610 filled UBorrow requests from Big 10 libraries
  • 16,821 filled BorrowDirect requests from Ivy Plus libraries
  • 17,275 filled interlibrary loan requests
  • 32,378 items on course reserve for 1,440 classes
  • 15,546 questions to librarians
  • 9,316 attendees at training sessions


  • 1.2 million entries into Regenstein and 128,249 entries into Crerar
  • 48,222 visits by researchers unaffiliated with the University
  • 1.7 million visits to the Library website
  • 739,343 visits to the Library Catalog

*Library ranking is based on the most recent data available (2015/2016) from the Association of Research Libraries. All other data date from June 2017.


The Library builds and preserves research collections that support the present and future needs of its faculty, students, and staff. Forty-two 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 Enrico Fermi, Harriet Monroe, Ida B. Wells, Edward Levi, and S. Chandrasekhar
  • Business archives and printing samples of RR Donnelley

Notable Special Collections acquisitions in 2016-17 include the John Maloof Collection of Vivian Maier and the Lawrence Okrent Image Collection. Collections organized and opened for research in 2016-17 include the papers of Nobel Prize winners Saul Bellow and Ronald H. Coase, as well as the Ralph Shapey Papers, which include sizable contemporary music collections.

The Library digitizes its own collections in order to provide greater access, preserve at-risk materials, and enable new forms of digital scholarship. 98 subject-based collections have been made 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 and 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 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 a combination of print volumes and archival materials equaling 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 is pursuing for years 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.

Professional Development: Research and Teaching librarians launched Professional Development Thursdays, including presentations on topics ranging from an introduction to GIS to incorporating active learning activities in instruction to use of Google Analytics to assess online Library Guides. The Instruction and Outreach Steering Committee launched a peer observation program to improve teaching by librarians. And the UChicago Library participated in this year’s Great Lakes Science Boot Camp for librarians and committed to hosting the Boot Camp in 2019.  The yearly camp educates librarians about science researchers and their spaces.

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; 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 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.

Library Survey of Undergraduates: The Library conducted a survey of all enrolled undergraduates in winter quarter 2017 in order to develop an understanding of the needs, priorities, and experiences of students on this campus. Ongoing analysis of the survey has explored perceptions of the Library’s physical space and the impact of the Library’s instruction program. Results are being compared with the Library’s 2015 Survey of Graduate and Professional School Students. The findings of this survey will allow the Library to develop programming and services to support the specific needs of the College.

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. 

Conference on the Future of Academic Libraries in the U.S. and China: UChicago’s University Librarian and the Curator of the East Asian Collection discussed the future with peers from academic libraries in China and North America at this conference at Harvard University.  UChicago Library Director and University Librarian Brenda Johnson chaired a panel on Open Access; Curator of the East Asian Collection Yuan Zhou chaired a panel on Building Global Collections.

GIS Survey
: The GIS Library Resident conducted a survey to learn more about GIS needs on 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.

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.

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 and the Gleacher Center. 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 launching a new Graduate Career Development Resources Collection, to training career counselors at UChicago Grad in corporate research, to working with the History Department on workshops and events designed to increase the marketability of PhD students. Librarians also provide specialized instruction to participants in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, which aims to prepare talented students to pursue university teaching careers in disciplines where minority faculty are notably underrepresented.

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.

TechBar: 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 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 to build a digital repository to preserve and share 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.

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 2.2 million publications to date.

Center for Digital Scholarship: The Library is establishing a Center for Digital Scholarship that will support state-of-the-art technologies and services that facilitate the exploration of new methodologies, the analysis of complex data, the visualization of theoretical relationships, and the sharing of research results.

Digitization: This year we began digitizing our Early Western Manuscripts and Islamic Lithographs Collection and continued digitizing campus publications, including early issues of the Daily Maroon from 1902-1920.    

Web Exhibits: In FY’17 the Special Collections Research Center created four new web exhibits in conjunction with the year’s four major gallery exhibitions on Cyrus Leroy Baldridge; Alma Lach’s Kitchen; Concrete Poetry, Concrete Books; and Tensions in Renaissance Cities.

4.  Enhancing Access to Scholarly Resources

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

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.

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. In 2016-17, more than 300 finding aids were added to the database, bringing the total number of UChicago Special Collections holdings on the site to 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.

Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships: Since 2006, the Library has awarded 109 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 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.