About the University Library

About the Collections

The University Library holds more than thirteen million volumes and 24 million items and materials in all formats, languages, and subjects, including 9 million microforms, 120,000 serials, 148,000 audio-recordings, over 930,000 audiovisual materials, over 280,000 electronic books, 12,000 films, and 650,000 maps. These collections form the bulk of I-Share, the statewide library online catalog. Currently there are 76 I-Share libraries and more than 30 million library items represented in the I-Share catalog. Users at these I-Share libraries may borrow books directly from the 76 I-Share library participants.

Among the Library's most notable collections are its holdings in Slavic and Eastern European history, literature, and science; music, especially Renaissance music; 17th- and 18th-century American and British literature; American, British and Irish history, including a distinguished collection of Lincolniana; French, German, and Italian literature, including world-famous Proust, Rilke, Dante, and Tasso collections; Latin American history and literature; historic and modern maps; linguistics; entomology, ornithology, botany, chemistry and mathematics; and serials across all disciplines.

The Library is also world-famous for its outstanding collection of emblem books and incunabula; and collections, including personal papers, of John Milton, Marcel Proust, H.G. Wells, Carl Sandburg, and Avery Brundage of the international Olympic movement.


The goal of the University Library is to become the nation's leading institution in terms of physical and electronic access to its collections. The Library is already well-known for allowing anyone--not just the university community--to use its collection on-site. Now patrons from around the world visit the library website to access our online resources, averaging nearly half a million hits per week. The Library's worldwide patrons also know that if they call the Library with a reference question, they will receive the same outstanding professional help that on-site users receive.

The University Library now has embarked on a new mission to remove the barriers of time and place from access to Library materials. In conjunction with the university's National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and its own Grainger Engineering Library Information Center as the test-bed laboratory, the Library is actively working on advanced, networked, multimedia information systems. It will be introducing sophisticated new bibliographic software and navigational tools that will make using our catalogs as easy as 'point-and-click.' Users anywhere in the world already can access the Library's online catalog and many of its databases via the Internet through the World Wide Web. As new software tools emerge from the Library's cooperative efforts, this kind of 24-hour access will be enhanced to include full-text retrieval and integration of illustrations and sound with text.

Library Service to Undergraduates

The Library's Undergraduate Library, with over 200,000 volumes, provides in one location more reference resources for undergraduate instruction than any other undergraduate college library in the United States. The Undergraduate Library is also known nationally for its array of award-winning programs designed to teach students to become sophisticated users of the latest information technologies. These courses are integrated into a student's regular classroom instruction so that virtually every student is assured of exposure to bibliographic instruction. Many of the Library's other departmental libraries also conduct bibliographic instruction programs tailored to the specific needs of individual courses.

The Undergraduate Library also offers other important services, such as course reserves, and Office Hours where students can drop in to get assistance with research and writing from librarians and consultants from the Writer’s Workshop.  Campus partners, including the Career Center (offering resume and cover letter critiques), Division of General Studies Advising, and Study Abroad also provide regularly scheduled hours at the Connections Desk.  As a further service to undergraduates, the Undergraduate Library and the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center both have campus-supported multimedia computer laboratories, with more than 20 workstations each.


(Check out more videos about the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign library on the TheIlliniLibrarian YouTube channel.)

Library Deans/University Librarians

(Click on Name to Display Photo)