History of the Biology Library

Plaque in biosciences office
Plaque located in the Bioscience Librarian’s Office in 123A Burrill Hall.

Bamber Reading Room

The Lyle E. and Lois R. Bamber Reading Room was officially dedicated on October 25, 2001. Mrs. Bamber’s nephew Robert F. Riffle, his wife Rosemary, and their son Robert M. Riffle were present for the event. The ceremony began with welcome remarks by University Librarian Paula Kaufman. Professor Emerita Elisabeth Davis, Mr. Bamber’s successor at the Biology Library, talked about her association with Mr. Bamber when she served as assistant biology librarian. Curator of Special Collections Gene Rinkel spoke about his memories of Lois Bamber when she volunteered at the University Archives.

The former Lyle E. and Lois R. Bamber Reading Room was dedicated to the memory of the first biology librarian, Lyle E. Bamber, who worked at the University Library from 1939-1971. A plaque used to reside on the west wall of the Biology Library acknowledging the gift of Lois Riffle Bamber (1905-1997) in honor of her husband, Lyle E. Bamber (1903-1980). After serving the Natural History Library from 1939 through 1959, Lyle Bamber organized the Biology Library where he worked until his retirement in 1971.

Burrill Hall

Burrill Hall is named for Thomas J. Burrill (1839-1916), who served the University of Illinois for forty-four years as Assistant Professor of Natural History (1868-70), Professor of Botany (1870-1912), Dean of the College of Science (1878-84), Dean of the Graduate School (1894-1905), and Acting President of the University (1891-94 and 1904). Burrill was the first to discover a bacterial cause of disease in plants when he documented the cause of pear blight in 1880. Burrill was a charter member of the American Microscopical Society and the President of the Society of American Bacteriologists in the year preceding his death. The Thomas J. Burrill Papers, housed in the University of Illinois Archives, contain material on bacteriology, plant pathology, microscopy, and the application of scientific research to the agricultural and commercial needs of the state of Illinois.

Stephen Alfred Forbes

The collections of the Biology Library and the Natural History Survey Library have their origins in the Library of the State Laboratory of Natural History which was developed by Professor Stephen A. Forbes. This library of 1,207 volumes and 3,856 periodicals and pamphlets was transferred from Normal, IL when Professor Forbes was made head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Illinois in 1884. Forbes is “generally credited with laying the foundations for applied ecology, and in particular, for integrated pest management” (IlliniWeek, April 26, 1990, p. 6). In the obituary that appeared in the Journal of Economic Entomology v. 23: 472-473, 1930, Forbes was credited with “one of the most remarkable careers known in the history of American Entomology.” The Stephen A. Forbes Papers are held in the University of Illinois Archives.