Natural History Survey Collection

I. Collection Description


To support the research of the Illinois Natural History Survey as described in its broad mandated mission, "to study the plants and animals of Illinois and how they interact among the variety of ecosystems throughout the state. Through its research and other activities, the Survey fosters intelligent and responsible management of the biological resources of Illinois and public appreciation of the state's natural heritage". These investigations, involve both pure and applied research.

University of Illinois departments that are serviced by the Natural History Survey collection include the School of Life Sciences, School of Integrative Biology, Department of Animal Biology which include Botany, Entomology, Biology, Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution. In the College of Agriculture, Agriculture, Agronomy, Plant Pathology, Agricultural Entomology, and Horticulture; Landscape Architecture; and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the Office of Sustainability..

History of Collection:

The Library of the Illinois Natural History Survey was founded at the first meeting of the Natural History Society of Illinois in 1858 and has always had a professional librarian since 1906. In 1861, the Society received its charter from the State Legislature and was located in Normal Illinois. The Society became the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History in 1877. The collection was transferred to Urbana in 1885 so that the laboratory director, Stephen A. Forbes, could also serve as Professor of Zoology and Entomology at the Illinois Industrial University. From that time through the present, the Natural History Survey Library has been affiliated both with the State Natural History Survey and with the University of Illinois.

In 1917 the Laboratory of Natural History was combined with the State Entomologist's office and was renamed the Illinois Natural History Survey. The library remained under the possession of the INHS until 1928 when it was turned over to the University of Illinois with specific stipulations. The Natural Resources building which currently houses the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Illinois Geological Survey was built in 1940. At that time the Illinois Natural History Survey Library became a full departmental library of the University of Illinois Library. An agreement was reached between T.H. Frison, chief of the Survey, and C. M. White, Director of University Libraries, providing that the Survey would furnish the building, furniture, and staff for the Library and the University Library would provide a budget for the purchase of books and serials and do the technical processing. Many of the materials from the Natural History Library (in the Natural History Building) were transferred to this library.

In 1959 upon completion of Burrill Hall the INHS Library's collection was split up. The life sciences materials were moved to the Biology Library housed at 101 Burrill Hall and the geological materials were moved to the newly formed Geology Library in the Natural History Building.

Today the Natural History Survey library is in a state of transition.  Recently the five State Scientific Surveys merged to form the Prairie Research Institute.  The libraries from each Survey are combining to form the Prairie Research Institute Library.

Estimate of Holdings:

69,700 volumes for Natural History Survey Library collection.

State, Regional and National Importance:

The Natural History Survey Library collection is nationally known and is well respected by researchers at the national, regional and state levels.

Unit Responsible for Collecting:

The Natural History Survey Library collection is responsible for collecting in relation to Section I.A. Purpose. Many departmental libraries such as the Biology, Agriculture, and City Planning and Landscape Architecture Libraries collect in overlapping subject areas.

Location of Materials:

The majority of materials are in the Prairie Research Institute Library with other related materials in the Bookstacks, Oak Street, and the Funk Agriculture Library.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection:

Warrick, Ruth R. Library. Bulletin of the Illinois Natural History Survey, 27 (2):210-214.

Wohlgemuth, B. 2008. INHS Library. Outdoor Illinois 16(9):13.

Wohlgemuth, B. 2007. New library buildings, Illinois Natural History Survey Library. Illinois Library Association Reporter, 25(1): 14-15.

Wohlgemuth, B. 2006. Illinois Natural History Survey Library Grand Opening Celebration. Illinois Natural History Survey Reports, summer, no. 388.

Wohlgemuth, B. 2006. Grand opening ceremonies continue to build an Illinois tradition dating to the mid 1800s, INHS Library. Outdoor Illinois 15(9):28

II. General Collection Guidelines


English is the dominant language of the collection. German, Spanish, French, Russian and other Slavic languages, Japanese, Chinese, Scandinavian, Portuguese, Italian and other minor language materials are all collected, mainly through exchange agreements.

Chronological Guidelines:

No restrictions. Special interest in the historical perspective.

Geographical Guidelines:

Emphasis is on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. Special emphasis on Illinois but collect internationally.

Treatment of Subject:

The concept "Natural History" is interpreted in a very broad sense for the collection. Coverage includes life histories, ecology, reproduction, and environmental aspects of natural resources along with their allocation and use. Standard statement.

Types of Materials:

Appropriate primary and secondary works, and bibliographic, and reference materials are acquired. Ordinarily, dissertations, theses and translations are selectively collected. Hard copy is normally preferred to microforms, except when the original formats are unavailable or prohibitively expensive, or for reasons of usage, storage or conservation/preservation, in which case microforms may be preferable. Audio-visual materials are normally collected selectively.

Date of Publication:

Current materials are emphasized, but retrospective works are acquired on a selective basis. New and revised editions or important works are purchased when new explanatory or primary material is introduced.

Place of Publication:

No restrictions.

III. Collection Responsibility by Subject Subdivisions with Qualifications, Levels of Collecting Intensity, and Assignments

Below is a table that lists specific subject subdivisions within the collection. Each row in the table lists a specific subject subdivision, followed by three columns noting: Collection Strength, Primary Assignments and Secondary Assignments. The Existing Collecting Strength column notes how well the existing collection covers that topic on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being very strong. The Primary Assignments column lists departmental libraries that have the greatest collection intensity of subject materials, respectively. In the case of 2 or more libraries listed, the collection intensity is comparable. The Secondary Assignments column list departmental libraries where additional materials may be found.

Natural History Survey Collection
Aquaculture 4 Natural History Survey
Aquatic botany 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Benthic studies 3 Biology Natural History Survey
Fisheries research 4 Natural History Survey
Limnology 3 Biology Natural History Survey
Microbial ecology 2 Biology Natural History Survey
Economic botany 4 Natural History Survey Agriculture/Biology
Mycology 4 Natural History Survey Biology
Plant pathology 4 Agriculture Natural History Survey
Plant systematics/evolution/speciation 4 Biology Natural History Survey / Agriculture
Aquatic ecosystems 3 Biology Natural History Survey / City Planning
Ecological information in Illinois 4 Natural History Survey City Planning
Ecological restoration 4 Natural History Survey
Endangered species 3 Natural History Survey Biology
Invasive species 4 Natural History Survey Biology
Land use 3 City Planning Natural History Survey
Natural resources management 3 Natural History Survey City Planning
Terrestrial ecosystems 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Toxicology 3 Biology Natural History Survey
Watershed management 3 Natural History Survey
Wetland ecosystems 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Control-integrated pest management 4 Natural History Survey Agriculture/Biology
Economic entomology 4 Natural History Survey Agriculture/Biology
Insect physiology and toxicology 3 Biology Natural History Survey/
Insect systematics 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Entomology 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Herpetology 3 Biology Natural History Survey
Ichthyology 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Invertebrate zoology 3 Biology Natural History Survey
Mammalogy 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Ornithology 4 Biology Natural History Survey
Ecology 3 Agriculture Natural History Survey
Wildlife 4 Natural History Survey Biology
Conservation 4 Natural History Survey Biology
Management 4 Natural History Survey


Version Date: December 2011