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The Ricker Library of Architecture and Art is a hub for participatory engagement across the School of Art + Design, the School of Architecture, and the Krannert Art Museum. We believe that research enriches all of our constituents’ practices, and we dedicate ourselves to fostering connections among all who are engaged with art and architecture across the Illinois campus and beyond. We offer passion, expertise, and care while continuously improving our resources and services through research, reflection, and dialogue with our community.

Land Acknowledgment

Ricker Library of Architecture & Art, as part of the University of Illinois, stands on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations.

These lands were the traditional territory of these Indigenous Nations prior to their forced removal, and they continue to carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity today.

As part of a land-grant institution dedicated to promoting the critical power of art of the past and present, Ricker Library has a responsibility to acknowledge the peoples of these lands, as well as the histories of dispossession that have allowed for the growth of this university over the last 150 years.


The Library’s Beginnings: Nathan Clifford Ricker

The foundation for the Library’s architecture and art collections was laid by the country’s first college graduate of architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Nathan Clifford Ricker (1843-1924), who in 1873 purchased several important architectural treatises and folios. As his personal collection outgrew his office space, first a room, and then an entire wing of the Architecture Building were assigned to house the collection. By that time, his collection included not only the folios, but also a photographic collection and several rare first editions. In recognition of this founding role, the University’s Board of Trustees in 1917 authorized the Library to name the unit in Professor Ricker’s honor.

The Library Today

Today, the collections of the Ricker Library of Architecture and Art includes more than 150,000 volumes and 40,000 serials (some housed in the Main Library’s book stacks as well as Oak Street Remote Storage Facility). The Ricker Library also provides access to several important electronic databases. The holdings cover the fields of architecture, architectural history, art, art history, museum studies, and art education.

Related collections exist in the following locations:

Collection Highlights

  • Art and Design

    The art and design collection includes both general and special period works on the history of art, monographs on artists, sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, crafts, museology, art education, graphic design, industrial design, and prints and printmaking. The unit has extensive holdings of exhibition catalogs from all time periods and geographic locations.

  • Architecture

    The architecture collection includes landmark titles in architecture, history and theory of design, historic preservation, professional practice and management, structures, and monographs on architects and building types. The unit maintains a particularly strong collection of information on current practicing architects.

  • Catalogues Raisonnés

    Ricker Library has a major collection of catalogues raisonnés on important artists, architects, and sculptors. We endeavor to buy both current and out-of-print editions.

  • Rare Items

    Among the unit’s treasures are several large portfolios dealing with Frank Lloyd Wright, complete runs of rare nineteenth-century architecture and art journals, and Ricker’s own translations of more than thirty classic works on architecture.

  • Cicognara Library

    Ricker Library has a subscription to the entire Cicognara Library on microfiche (Call numbersMFICHE700 C485). The Cicognara collection, housed in the Vatican Library, represents the 5,000 books on art and related subjects assembled by the eighteenth-century patron of the arts, Count Leopoldo Cicognara (1767-1834).

  • Midwestern Architectural Drawings

    Thanks to a unique cooperative agreement in the 1950s with the Art Institute of Chicago, 31 microfilm reels dealing with midwestern architectural drawings were filmed under the auspices of a microfilming project sponsored jointly by the Art Institute’s Burnham Library and the University of Illinois.

Library Exhibitions

Materials from our collections are highlighted in the two cases just inside the library entrance.

Past Library Exhibitions:

Learning to Draw: A Selection of Books and Manuals for Art Students
October 15, 2017- January 31, 2018

Image from: Initiation à la Composition Décorative by C. Patissié, Paris: Librairie Classique F. Nathan, 1911.
The exhibition is composed of three separate installations which showcase our instructional drawing books and manuals. Concepts explored include: tools and forms, design techniques, and the application of color theory.

Floral Ornamentation
December 20, 2016 – October 1, 2017
Floral_1   Floral_2
Images from: Etude de la Plante: Son Application aux Industries d’Art: Pochoir, Papier, Peint, Etoffes, Ceramique, Marqueterie, Tapis, Ferronnerie, Reliure, Dentelles, Broderies, Vitrail, Mosaique, Bijouterie, Bronze, Ovfeverie. Paris: Libraries Centrale des Beaux-Arts, 1903.

Selection from Untitled Project: Robert Smithson Library & Book Club by Conrad Bakker
September 23-December 19, 2016
the left exhibition case   smithson_exhibition2
More details about this project are available here.

Material included in Ricker Library exhibitions rotate on a regular basis.

Endowed Funds

In 1988, the Ricker Library began to create a collection of books about residential architecture, thanks to a gift from architecture alumnus John G. Replinger in memory of architecture alumnus Albert O. Bumgardner. With the passing of John G. Replinger, a memorial fund has been established in his memory.

Ricker Library currently has nine endowed funds:

  • Etta Mae Arntzen
  • Jack Baker
  • Arthur E. Biallas
  • Albert H. Nemoede
  • Anthony J. Petullo
  • Helen M. Reynolds
  • Frederick W. Salogga (FAIA funds)
  • Professor Harold A. Schultz (in honor of his dear friend and colleague, Professor Allen S. Weller)
  • John E. Sweet

These monies are used to buy items in new or burgeoning areas of instruction and research that the Ricker Library cannot, presently, purchase from state funds. Each item purchased from an endowment fund is designated by a bookplate. See below for examples of current bookplates.

If you are interested in making a donation to Ricker Library, please contact rickerlibrary@library.illinois.edu.

Gifts Policy

Ricker Library enjoys strong relationships with students and alumni, faculty and faculty emeriti. We are glad to receive receive requests to acquire gifts-in-kind of books, journals, and other forms of research material.

However, as Ricker has limited capacity to accept gifts, due to limited staffing and space, we do require an itemized list of potential gift items in order to ensure that we do not duplicate any materials we currently have.

Itemized lists would include the following:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Publication information (publisher, place of publication, year, edition if applicable)
  • Highly recommended: ISBN for books, ISSN for serials

Additionally, we cannot accept materials that are damaged, including items that are moldy or exposed to pests.

If you’d like to inquire about potential gift items, please contact rickerlibrary@library.illinois.edu with your itemized list and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

If you’d like to learn more about giving to the library, please visit the Library Advancement webpage for more information. Thank you for your interest in giving to the Library!

Ricker Library Bookplates


Our newsletter is biannual, with a spring and fall edition each academic year. It is a valuable resource, which typically includes feature articles about new resources in the library, acknowledges recent donations to the library, and highlights interesting new items in the library collection.

Current issues of the newsletter are now available via email to donors and subscribers. If you would like a copy mailed to you, please send us an email. Access our latest newsletters from the list of links below.

Newsletter Archive 1999-2018