Agriculture - Collections

Agriculture Collection

Version Date: 2021


I. Collection Description


To support teaching and research through and beyond the doctoral level for programs in the College of ACES and serve the needs of the on-campus and off-campus personnel of Illinois’ Agricultural Experiment Station and Illinois Extension. The collection also supports teaching and research in related fields, such as biology, chemistry, engineering, landscape architecture, natural history, social sciences, and veterinary medicine. As a land-grant institution, the collection helps supports agricultural research and work throughout the state of Illinois.

History of Collection

The Agriculture Library began in 1912 following a study by a faculty committee appointed to investigate the feasibility of establishing an Agriculture Library. Student assistants were in charge of the collection which at first consisted of current agriculture periodicals, experiment station publications, and a few farm papers. In the spring of 1914, several thousand volumes on agriculture were transferred from the Main Library and were combined with the library books scattered among the departments of the College to form the Agriculture collection. In 1915, a professional librarian was appointed, and the real development and growth of the agriculture collection began. In the spring of 1924, the Agriculture Library moved into Mumford Hall. In the years that followed, the Library absorbed the holdings of several office collections, most notably Animal Genetics, Floriculture, Forestry, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Economics, Agronomy, and Vo-Ag Services.

Based on the last Home Economics Collection Statement, the bulk of the Food Science collection was located in the Agriculture Library until 1974, when the Home Economics Library assumed total responsibility for collecting in Food Science. Per records in the University Archives, the Home Economics Library closed in 1996, and that collection was folded into the Agriculture collection.

Currently, the primary home for the Agriculture collection is Funk Library, which opened in 2001 in the then new ACES (Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences) Library, Information and Alumni Center building. Since then, other life sciences and related libraries closed or downsized (i.e., City Planning and Landscape Architecture in 2008, Biology in 2011, Prairie Research Institute in 2015, and Veterinary Medicine in 2016), and portions of those collections were integrated into Funk Library. As a result, the Agriculture collection is now major component of a larger life sciences collection on campus. In 2021, several hundred cookbooks from the Undergraduate Library were transferred to the Agriculture collection in Funk Library as the Library prepared to move Undergraduate Library services into the Main Library. These cookbooks had Library of Congress (LC) classification, and as part of accepting these items, Funk Library decided to switch all new acquisitions to LC, effective January 2021.

Estimate of Holdings

It is a challenge to obtain an accurate and complete estimate of holdings in the agriculture collection given the volumes are a mix of print and electronic and split between the Funk ACES Library, the Main Stacks, and the Oak Street Facility. In 2020, the agriculture collection held around 385 print and electronic journal and database subscriptions, including some subscription packages with multiple titles. An early 2000s version of the collection statement reported the collection held about 200,000 volumes, with 70,000 volumes in the Agriculture Library and 130,000 volumes in the Main Library Bookstacks.

State, Regional and National Importance

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a land-grant institution that has been collecting agricultural titles since 1867. Several private agricultural collections have been given to the University over the years. Most noteworthy are a nearly complete set of USDA publications given by Samuel Insull in 1919 and a personal collection given by the former Dean of Agriculture, Henry Perly Rusk. Today the University of Illinois continues these collections by extensive purchases with state, endowment, and gift funds.

Responsibility for Collecting

The Agriculture Librarian is ultimately responsible for the Agriculture collection, but other librarians who serve as liaisons to College of ACES departments are encouraged to participate and collaborate in developing the collection.

Location of Materials

A substantial and growing proportion of the collection is available online. Current and highly used print materials are housed in the Funk ACES Library. Other parts of the collection are held in the Main Library Stacks and the Oak Street Facility. Relevant materials are also held by other libraries, including the Grainger Engineering Library; Map Library; Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library; and Veterinary Medicine Library.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection

Downs, Robert B. (ed.). Guide to Illinois Library Resources. Chicago: American Library Association. 1974. pp. 5-6.

Kaniki, Andrew Musonda: “Evaluation of the University of Illinois Agriculture Library Collection in the Field of Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture.” May 1, 1981. (Unpub.)

Major, Jean A. Collections Acquired by the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign, 1897-1974. University of Illinois Library and Graduate School of Library Science. 1974. pp. 39, 81, 152, 177.

Endowments and Gift Funds that Support this Collection

Agricultural & Home Economics 1941 endowment
Albert endowment
Brannon endowment
Freytag Library endowment
Laible endowment
Oberholtzer endowment
Thompson endowment
ACES Library gift funds

II. General Collection Guidelines


English is the dominant language of the collection, but appropriate materials are collected in all languages.

Chronological Guidelines

No restrictions. Strong interest in history of agriculture.

Geographical Guidelines

Worldwide scope. Special emphasis is placed on Illinois and the Midwest.

Electronic Resources Guidelines

In many cases, electronic formats are preferred over print except in those cases where the practical utility of the electronic format is inferior to print. For eBooks, the terms of acquisition should be DRM-free and should allow for ownership and multiple simultaneous user access. Given the importance of the agriculture collection in the state, the ability to share print books within the Illinois consortium or via Interlibrary Loan is also a consideration. For bibliographic databases, journals, magazines, and datasets, online access is strongly preferred but only if online access is through campus IP addresses or campus authentication; resource-specific logins and passwords are generally not accommodated. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the librarian.

Treatment of Subject

The primary focus is on current materials that fall within the collection scope listed below. Materials are purchased for undergraduate and graduate teaching and learning, for applied and theoretical research, and to a lesser extent for practicing farmers and agribusinesses.

Types of Materials

Appropriate primary and secondary works, and bibliographic and reference materials are acquired. Subscriptions are maintained to disciplinary bibliographic databases and to relevant journals and magazines. Datasets are collected selectively, and audio-visual materials are collected infrequently.

Date of Publication

Current materials are emphasized, but retrospective works are acquired on a selective basis. New and revised editions or important works are purchased when new explanatory or primary material is introduced.

Place of Publication

No restrictions.

III. Collection Scope by Subject Classification (Dewey & Library of Congress)

Since the Agriculture collection is split between Dewey and Library of Congress (LC) classifications, the collection scope is provided for both. These classification and specific foci guide selection with the agriculture funds. The Agriculture Librarian collaborates closely with librarians for related disciplines to ensure researcher needs are met.

Dewey Class Notes
300s Social Sciences  
330 Economics Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
333 Economics of land & energy Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
337 International economics Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
338 Production Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
363.7 Other social problems & services: Environmental problems
363.8 Other social problems & services: Food supply
394.1 General customs: Eating, drinking; using drugs
500s Science  
577 Ecology
600s Technology  
612 Human physiology Selective; focus on food science and human nutrition
613 Personal health & safety Selective; focus on food science and human nutrition
616 Diseases Selective; focus on food science and human nutrition
628 Sanitary & municipal engineering
630 Agriculture & related technologies
631 Techniques, equipment & materials
632 Plant injuries, diseases & pests
633 Field & plantation crops
634 Orchards, fruits & forestry
635 Garden crops (Horticulture)
636 Animal husbandry
637 Processing dairy & related products
638 Insect culture
639 Hunting, fishing & conservation
640 Home & family management
641 Food & drink
642 Meals & table service
643 Housing & household equipment Selective
644 Household utilities Selective
645 Household furnishings Selective
646 Sewing, clothing & personal living Selective
648 Housekeeping Selective
658 General management Selective
663 Beverage technology
664 Food technology
674 Lumber processing, wood products & cork Selective
677 Textiles
687 Clothing & accessories Selective
700s Arts & Recreation  
712 Landscape architecture Selective; focus on horticulture
713 Landscape architecture of trafficways Selective; focus on horticulture
715 Woody plants Selective; focus on horticulture
716 Herbaceous plants Selective; focus on horticulture
799 Fishing, hunting & shooting Selective


LC Class Notes
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation.  
GE Environmental Sciences  
GT Manners and customs Selective
GT2400-3390.5 Customs relative to private life, including eating and drinking Selective
H Social Sciences  
HC Economic history and conditions Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
HD Industries. Land Use. Labor. Selective
HD101-1395.5 Land use
HD1401-2210 Agriculture
HD9000-9495 Agricultural industries  
HD9502-9502.5 Energy industries. Energy policy. Fuel trade. Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
HF Commerce Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
HM Sociology Selective
HM831-901 Social change Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
Q Science  
QH Natural history – Biology Selective
QH540-549.5 Ecology Selective; focus on agriculture and sustainability
QP Physiology Selective; focus on agriculture
R Medicine  
RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology. Selective
RM214-258 Diet therapy. Dietary cookbooks.
S Agriculture  
SB Plant culture
SD Forestry
SF Animal culture
SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling. Selective
SK Hunting sports Selective
T Technology
TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering. Selective
TP Chemical technology Selective
TP368-456 Food processing and manufacture
TP500-660 Fermentation industries. Beverages. Alcohol.
TX Home economics Selective
TX341-641 Nutrition. Foods and food supply.  
TX642-840 Cooking