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Prairie Research Institute

Important notice:

The Prairie Research Institute Library has closed permanently.  The Prairie Research Institute Librarian is now based at Funk Library, and may be reached by email or at (217) 333-5856. Additional contact information is here.  Additional information about the library closure can be found on the FAQ page. 

About the Prairie Research Institute Library

Contact Information

A Brief Recent History

In 2008, the four existing state scientific surveys (the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey, and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center) were transferred from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to the University of Illinois as the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability.  In February 2010, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey joined the Institute.  In May 2011, the Institute changed its name to the Prairie Research Institute. By recommendation of the Institute Library Advisory Task Force approved by the Prairie Research Institute's Executive Director, the Prairie Research Institute Library was established in June 2011 from the merger of the the Illinois Natural History Survey Library, Illinois State Geological Survey Library, Illinois State Water Survey Library, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Library. In 2014, the Prairie Research Institute made the difficult decision to close its library, and the Prairie Research Institute Library closed its doors for the last time at 5pm December 18, 2015.  The purpose of the Prairie Research Institute Library was to collect, preserve, promote, document, support, and collaborate in the scientific research and educational activities of the Institute.  The library provided research support and assistance to Institute staff, the University of Illinois community, and the citizens of Illinois, and that effort continues despite the closure.  Collections were redistributed to other units of the University Library where they remain available to library users.  The Prairie Research Institute Librarian position was transferred from the Prairie Research Institute to the University Library and is housed in Funk Library, and the Prairie Research Institute Librarian is responsible for the natural history subject funds for library acquisitions.  Additional information on the closure is here.

About The Collections

The Prairie Research Institute Library collection comprised more than 58,000 cataloged titles and more than 65,000 cataloged items, including books, journals, media and other materials.  In addition to the historical output of the State Scientific Surveys, coverage included earth and environmental sciences, ecology, environmental education, environmental protection and conservation, pollution prevention, natural history, and natural resources of all types, with a focus on Illinois and the surrounding region.  

Prior to 2010, only the Illinois Natural History Survey Library collection was owned by the University Library and included in the University Library catalog.  The collections of the other State Scientific Surveys (Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center) were independently maintained.  In 2009, the Institute Librarians and the University Library received funding from the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) to add the ISGS, ISWS, and ISTC library collections to the University Library's Online Catalog.  This funding was supplemented by the University Library and the Prairie Research Institute.  More than 26,000 bibliographic records, many of them brand new records not previously found in any library catalog, were added to the catalog over several years (2009-2015) through addition of the Survey library catalogs and the processing of uncataloged backlogs. These materials were made available for researchers worldwide to borrow.  Copyright free materials were made available for digitization, and many of these materials have been (and continue to be) selected for the Internet Archive, Biodiversity Heritage Library, or HathiTrust, further expanding the impact of the Prairie Research Institute Library's collection.

Throughout 2015 in preparation for the planned closure, materials in the Prairie Research Institute Library were transferred to other University Library locations, including Funk Library, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Government Documents in the Main Stacks, and the Oak Street Facility.  Transfer of cataloged materials was completed in May 2016.  The circulating collection formerly held in the Prairie Research Institute Library continues to circulate.  Books and journals may be found and requested via the University Library's Online Catalog and I-Share.  Those not affiliated with the University of Illinois or an I-Share institution may borrow University Library materials with a Courtesy Card (proof of Illinois residence is required) or request materials through their own local library's interlibrary loan service.  Rare books formerly held in closed stacks in the Institute library now enjoy a superior preservation environment, and can be accessed by request through the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  

University Library collections in a range of disciplines including atmospheric sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, geology and natural history support the researchers of the Prairie Research Institute.  See the subject specialists list for a complete list of subjects, librarians responsible, and the library units where the collections and expertise are housed.  Support for acquisitions in natural history comes from the University Library's natural history fund and the John K. Bouseman Natural History Library Collection Endowment fund, both of which are managed by the Prairie Research Institute Librarian. (Note that purchase requests are very welcome.)  New acquisitions from these natural history funds are housed in Funk Library, where they are displayed on the new book shelf on the 2nd floor, along with new acquisitions from the funds supporting the college of ACES, biology, city planning/landscape architecture, and veterinary medicine.  These collections make Funk Library a key destination for researchers working in the natural sciences, natural resources, and environmental sciences.