Architecture Collection - Collections

The collection is maintained by the Ricker Library of Architecture & Art.

The Ricker Library of Architecture & Art supports the teaching and research of the faculty and students in the School of Architecture, which includes Architectural Design, Architectural History and Preservation, Architectural Practice and Technology, and Architectural Management. The collection consists of 50,000 volumes in the Ricker Library and the Bookstacks. The architecture collection is particularly strong in long runs of early architecture periodicals, materials on Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School, and early architectural treatises. Nathan C. Ricker’s translations of architectural treatises are among the prize possessions of the library.

Version Date: January, 2007


I. Collection Description


The Ricker Library of Architecture and Art supports the teaching and research of the faculty and students in the School of Architecture which offers the following degrees:

  1. Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies (BSAS)
  2. Master of Architecture (MArch). The School also offers joint degrees with the following academic units: Urban Planning, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Structures and Construction Management, Business Administration, and Computer Science.
  3. Master of Science in Architectural Studies (MSAS)
  4. Ph.D in Architecture within the joint Ph.D Program in Architecture/ Landscape Architecture

The library supports research and teaching for each of the degrees. It supports the needs of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, the teaching faculty, and many visiting researchers.

Titles are acquired that support the curricular and/or research needs of faculty and students.

History of Collection:

The architecture collection was begun in 1873 by Nathan Clifford Ricker, who was in charge of the Department of Architecture from 1872-1910 and was Dean of the College of Engineering from 1878-1905. Dr. Ricker was, from the first, a guiding factor in the development of the library. One of his first acts as head of the department was to establish a $500 book budget. At first housed in Dr. Ricker’s office, the Ricker Library by 1920 took up the entire north wing of the top floor of Engineering Hall and was the second largest architecture library in the country. The collection was moved to the new Architecture and Kindred Subjects building in 1928, when there were over 8,000 volumes, including bound periodicals, and about 12,000 lantern slides in the collection. During this year art resources were added to the collection for courses in the Department of Art and Design.

Estimate of Holdings:

50,000 volumes in Ricker Library and the Bookstacks in the Dewey class of 720s.

State, Regional and National Importance:

One of the largest and most respected architecture libraries in the United States. Serves as a state and regional resource in architecture. Particularly strong in long runs of early architecture periodicals, materials on Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School, and early architectural treatises. Nathan C. Ricker’s translations of architectural treatises are among the prize possessions of the library.

Unit Responsible for Collecting:

Ricker Library of Architecture & Art.

Location of Materials:

Ricker Library holds the most current monographs, items in high demand, and those needed for course reserves. Due to space limitations, Ricker usually only contains the last five years of journals currently received. The Main Library Stacks contains the bulk of the extensive historical collection including rare and complete runs of 19th century journals and the remainder of the book collection. The Oak Street facility holds materials consulted infrequently.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection:

Connally, Ernest Allen. Printed Books on Architecture. 1485-1805: A Brief History and a Catalog of the Exhibition. Urbana Adah Patton Memorial Fund, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Department of Architecture, 1960.

Curtis, Nathaniel Cortland. The Ricker Librarv of Architecture, University of Illinois, Urbana, 1920. (University of Illinois Bulletin, v. XVII, No. 29)

Davis, Fern DeBeck. “Ricker Library of Architecture,” Special Libraries 29:4 (April 1938): 106-08.

Downs, pp. 17, 19, 107, 317, 381.

Kruty, Paul. “Nathan Clifford Ricker: Establishing Architecture at the University of Illinois,” in No Boundaries: University of Illinois Vignettes. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004, pp. 3-14.

Major, pp. 26, 83, 147.

Quinn, Christopher. “Nathan Clifford Ricker: translator and educator,” in Arris 11(2000): 40-54.

Ridinger, Miriam. History of the Ricker Library of Architecture. 1873-1951. 1952 (Unpubl.)

II. General Collection Guidelines


We collect English and major Western European languages extensively. Slavic languages collected by the Slavic Library; Asian by the Asian Library. Place of Publications: We collect North American imprints and important Western European publications extensively.

Although some preference is given to English-language materials, scholarly texts are acquired in French, German, Italian and Spanish. Texts in other languages are acquired when the scholarship is compelling, the author is reputed, the publisher well-established, and there is a dearth of material on the subject in English.

Chronological Guidelines:

No restriction.

Geographical Guidelines:

No restrictions. A developing interest in vernacular architecture includes native building of Africa, Central and South America as well as European countries.

Treatment of Subject:

The treatment ranges from the highly scholarly and technical to introductory and popular works suitable for undergraduate instruction. The subject matter of the collection includes the following:

  1. Architectural design including specific building types, such as theaters, industrial buildings, libraries, etc., as well as site planning, design methods, behavior approaches to design, and computer applications.
  2. Catalogue raisonnés, monographs on an individual architect’s works and biographies
  3. Architectural techniques.
  4. Architectural history especially in the following periods: Early Christian and Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, 19th century, modern, and contemporary.
  5. Architectural lighting.
  6. Architectural interiors.
  7. Historic preservation including restoration and reuse of buildings.
  8. Housing including user studies, sociology of building, housing for special groups and industrialized building systems.
  9. Building technology and construction involving structures, steel buildings, concrete and other materials, foundations, construction also collected in administration and specifications.
  10. Environmental systems
  11. Codes and standards which are Engineering.
  12. Professional architectural practice.

The Library collects as comprehensively as the available resources permit. Some of the factors that could adversely affect acquisitions are: devaluation of the dollar abroad, budget restrictions, the addition of new faculty and/or new academic programs without compensatory library support, and the availability of titles.

Types of Materials:

We collect scholarly monographs, exhibition catalogs, catalogue raisonnés, museum catalogs, periodicals, reference tools, annuals and scholarly series extensively in print and or digital formats. Microforms, dissertations, CD-ROMS, reprints, are acquired very selectively. We do not collect newspapers, manuscripts, juvenile materials, maps, posters, slides or prints.

Date of Publication:

Standard statement.

Place of Publication:

No restrictions.

III. Collection Responsibility by Subject Subdivisions with Qualifications, Levels of Collecting Intensity, and Assignments

Below is a table that lists specific subject subdivisions within the collection. Each row in the table lists a specific subject subdivision, followed by three columns noting: Collection Strength, Primary Assignments and Secondary Assignments. The Existing Collecting Strength column notes how well the existing collection covers that topic on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being very strong. The Primary Assignments column lists departmental libraries that have the greatest collection intensity of subject materials, respectively. In the case of 2 or more libraries listed, the collection intensity is comparable. The Secondary Assignments column list departmental libraries where additional materials may be found.

Architecture Collection
Architectural Theory & Design 3 Architecture
Architects 4 Architecture
Architectural Techniques 3 Architecture
Architectural History 4 Architecture
Architectural Interiors 3 Architecture
Historic Preservation 4 Architecture
Housing 2 Architecture
Building Technology & Construction 3 Architecture
Environmental Systems 3 Architecture
Codes & Standards 3 Architecture
Professional Practice 3 Architecture


Revision Date: January 2007