Merger with the University of Chicago
Financial pressures on the Library did not cease with the move to IIT. Beginning in the 1970's the Board of Directors for the John Crerar Library analyzed various options to support long term sustainability of the institution, including a possible partnership with other organizations. In 1981, the decision was reached to join with the University of Chicago. This merger of two institutions would combine the strengths of each and help ensure "the continuity of a great intellectual and cultural treasure, a uniquely dimensioned resource of scientific, technical, and medical information" (1). The University holdings in the pure and theoretical sciences complemented the strong emphasis of the Crerar holdings in engineering and applied sciences.
The merging of the two libraries was a large and very complex undertaking. Each had different cataloging classifications (the University used Library of Congress, the Crerar used Dewey Decimal classification) and two different large card catalogs. There was an important need to estimate the size of building that would be needed to house the collections and services of the new library. There was overlap and duplication of both journal holdings and circulating book collections, and also of rare book and other special collections. The library received grant funding for some of the cost of the consolidation, and eventually sold unneeded duplicate volumes to generate funds to offset building and collection preparation costs. In the years leading up to the opening of the new John Crerar Library, staff surveyed collections, created lists for comparison of serials holdings and reviewed collections that would remain at the IIT campus, a monumental task.
When the new John Crerar Library opened its doors on Monday, September 10, 1984, there were more than 900,000 volumes in science, medicine and technology. Initially these collections were discoverable through the use of two monumental card catalogs, but eventually the University Library completed a retrospective conversion of the card catalogs to create an online catalog that is used to search the entirety of the John Crerar Library's collections as part of the overall University of Chicago Library holdings.
1. The John Crerar Library. A Report to the Community 1983. Chicago, 1983.