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
- 10th largest academic library in North America
- 11.9 million volumes in print and electronic form
- 65,330 linear feet of archives and manuscripts
- 245 terabytes of born-digital archives, digitized collections, and research data
- 191,919 print volumes circulated to 12,684 unique individuals
- 7.1 million electronic articles delivered
- 1.3 million uses of electronic books
- 17,815 filled Scan & Deliver requests
- 19,453 filled UBorrow requests from Big 10 libraries
- 17,448 filled BorrowDirect requests from Ivy Plus libraries
- 6,002 filled interlibrary loan requests
- 31,760 items on course reserve for 1,360 classes
- 1.3 million entries into Regenstein and 72,262 entries into Crerar
- 32,456 visits by researchers unaffiliated with the University
- 1.7 million visits to the Library website
- 848,718 visits to the Library Catalog
*Library ranking is based on the most recent data available (2016/2017) from the Association of Research Libraries. All other data date from June 2018.
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 or medals of 21 Nobel Prize winners such as Enrico Fermi, Saul Bellow, S. Chandrasekhar, and Ronald H. Coase; 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 2017-18 include the papers of Nobel Prize winners George Stigler and James Cronin.
The Library digitizes its own collections in order to provide greater access, preserve at-risk materials, and enable new forms of digital scholarship. 100 subject-based collections have been made accessible online, with items ranging from medieval 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.
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. 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.
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. Chicago is working with our Ivy Plus colleagues to envision a future where the Ivy Plus collection is the collection of all the members of the confederation.
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.
New GIS/Map Librarian: Cecilia Smith joined the Library in the new role of GIS/Map Librarian in June. She comes to the University from Texas A&M University where she was the Geospatial Librarian, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Evans Library. With an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an M.S. in GIS and Spatial Analysis in Archaeology, with honors, from the University College London and a B.A in Archaeology, from Boston University, Cecilia brings critical expertise to campus.
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 biomedical and health research data management for librarians, instruction assessment, copyright, applying social science liaison skills to research data and digital literacy, instruction and outreach for international students, the evolving nature of reference work, and ways of helping faculty to teach information literacy. 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 participated in this year’s Great Lakes Science Boot Camp for librarians and will host the Boot Camp in 2019.
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 3-5 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 in Regenstein curated by librarians explore topics of current interest and highlight strengths in the Library’s collections. The Library also hosts occasional student exhibits of art and writing, such as this year’s “The Cage” and “Migration Stories: book spines there burrowed.”
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 3.5 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 continued digitizing our Early Western Manuscripts and Islamic Lithographs Collection, early issues of the Daily Maroon and Chicago Maroon (1902-1950), and papers of University of Chicago presidents Harper, Judson and Burton (1869-1925) .
Web Exhibits: In FY’18 the Library added nine new web exhibits so that a total of 62 exhibits are now publicly accessible around the world. Two were done in conjunction with Special Collections Research Center gallery exhibitions: Art in the Stacks and Red Press: Radical Print Culture from St. Petersburg to Chicago.
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 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.
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 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. The BMRC hosts visiting scholars and manages an internship program that provides students experience in the archival profession.
Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships: Since 2006, the Library has awarded 124 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.
Fulbright Specialist Program: James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia, served as senior Fulbright specialist in Nepal in January and February 2018, helping to survey Nepali collections in the Kathmandu Valley, Palpa, and Lumbini, many of which were severely damaged in the 2015 earthquakes.