Background on the Chemistry Library

This photograph from 1891 shows Chemistry students studying in the Balance Room of what is now Harker Hall, when Harker was the home of the Chemistry Department.

Harker Hall 1891

The chemists created the first departmental library at the University of Illinois in 1891 when they began borrowing frequently-used books from the main library across campus and storing them in the Balance Room. Remodeled and revitalized in 2006, the UIUC Chemistry Library continues its tradition of excellent collections, services and facilities as it nears 125 years of age.

The Chemistry Library serves researchers, practitioners, scholars and students in chemistry, chemical engineering, and biochemistry. Its collections, once focused on print and now primarily electronic, are considered among the best in the country. Electronic access is available to thousands chemistry or chemistry-related serials and hundreds of book series; multiple databases and reference books are readily available online. Print serial and monograph holdings are also accessible on site or in nearby storage. Particularly noteworthy are collections that include long runs of journals in every field of chemistry, including many German titles dating back centuries.

Library expenditures for chemistry, chemical engineering and biochemistry materials total over one million dollars each year; that amount is even higher when considering expenditures for interdisciplinary materials that overlap chemistry.