Version Date: 2021
I. Collection Description
The purpose of the natural history collection in the library is to support the research of the Illinois Natural History Survey in fulfillment of their mission and mandates. It is also intended to support the related research of students, staff, and faculty of the University of Illinois, in particular those in the School of Integrative Biology, Departments of of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Landscape Architecture, as well as the instructional missions of those departments.
History of Collection:
The collection was first established in 1861 as part of the charter that established the Natural History Society of Illinois. Pivotal points in the early history of the collection include its location within the Normal University (now Illinois State University), transfer of ownership to the State Board of Education, the move of the State Laboratory of Natural History with its library from Normal to Urbana in 1884. transfer of the Natural History Survey’s Library holdings to the University of Illinois in 1929, the Illinois Natural History Survey’s move to the Natural Resources Building in 1940 and the establishment of the Illinois Natural History Survey Library there. The earliest library holdings of the State Laboratory of Natural History (including acquisitions itemized in Forbes, Stephen A. “Report of the Director of the State Laboratory of Natural History” pp. 138-160 In Etter, S. M. Thirteenth Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction 1878-1880) would likely have been among the materials transferred by Forbes to the University from the Survey in 1929.
It is worth noting that from 1940 until 1959 the were were two distinct (physically and administratively) natural history library collections on the University of Illinois campus: the University of Illinois’ Natural History Library in the Natural History Building and the Illinois Natural History Survey Library in the Natural Resources Building. There are records of some materials transferred from the Natural History Library to the Illinois Natural History Survey Library during that time, but the University Library’s Natural History Library collection dwarfed that of the Natural History Survey Library. In 1959, the University Library’s Natural History Library was divided to form the Biology Library in the Biological Sciences Building (now Burrill Hall) and the Geology Library, which remained in the Natural History Building.
Funds for materials were allocated by the University Library to the Illinois Natural History Survey from 1928 onward. Borrowing of materials from the Survey Library was primarily limited to Natural History Survey staff (though others were welcome to visit and use materials on site), until 1998, when borrowing was extended to University of Illinois patrons and the statewide academic library consortium with the launch of the University Library’s online catalog.
In 2011 the Prairie Research Institute Library was formed from the merger of libraries of the Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. The University Library and Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) and Prairie Research Institute jointly funded the addition of the other State Scientific Survey libraries’ catalogs to the University Library catalog. Funding for natural history acquisitions was continued by the University Library. The Prairie Research Institute Library was closed permanently on December 18, 2015, by the Prairie Research Institute. Collections were transferred to the Funk ACES Library, Main Stacks, and Oak St. Library depending on age, circulation history, and online availability. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Dean John Wilkin (University Library) and Director Mark Ryan (Prairie Research Institute) in 2015, establishing the Prairie Research Institute Librarian position within the University Library responsible for research support to Prairie Research Institute staff and management of natural history funds and collections for the University Library.
The overlapping disciplines, administrative histories, and physical locations of natural history and related collections make it difficult to draw distinct boundaries around this collection, historically or in the present. In light of the history, however, the co-location of the natural history and biology collections at Funk Library, and the collaborative management of these collections by librarians in the University Library’s Life Science Division is fitting.
Historic highlights and Librarians responsible for the collection are shown below; see also, the annotated bibliography of INHS Library history.
|1861||Illinois Natural History Society,
at Illinois State Normal University in Normal, IL (official charter establishes the library as part of the Society)
|Ira B. Moore (1861)|
|1871||Museum of Natural History, at Illinois State Normal University in Normal, IL, under the State Board of Education|
|1878||Museum of Natural History became the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History, at Illinois State Normal University in Normal, IL, under the State Board of Education||
Ange Milner (1881-1882)
|1885||The State Laboratory of Natural History moved
under the Illinois Industrial University, which became University of Illinois the following year.
|Cora Maltby (1886-1887)
Henry C. Forbes (1891-1903)Edna L. Goss (1904-1906)Grace O. Kelley (1906-1908)
|1917||The State Laboratory of Natural History became the Illinois State Natural History Survey, and was placed
under the Illinois Department of Registration and Education
|Charles E. Janvrin (1912-1928)|
|1929||The Library collection of the Natural History Survey, comprising 21,000 books and 54,000 pamphlets, was permanently transferred to the University of Illinois.|
|1940||An “Illinois Natural History Survey Library” was established in the Natural Resources Building; the University of Illinois’ “Natural History Library” continued to operate in the Natural History Building.||Marguerite Simmons (1944-1952)
Ruth Warrick (1953-1961?)
|1959||The University of Illinois Natural History Library is split into the Biology Library, which moved to the Biological Sciences Building (Burrill Hall) and the Geology Library, which remained in the Natural History Building||
Doris F. Dodds (1962?-1976)
|1965||Illinois State Natural History Survey moved under the
under the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Doris L. Sublette (1977-1981)
|1978||Illinois State Natural History Survey,
under Illinois Institute of Natural Resources
|1981||Illinois State Natural History Survey,
under Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources
|Carla G. Heister (1982-1985)
Erin O. Knight (1993 – 1998)
|1995||Illinois Natural History Survey,
under Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Beth Wohlgemuth (1998-2015)
|2008||Illinois Natural History Survey,
under Institute for Natural Resource Sustainability, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
|2010||Illinois Natural History Survey,
under Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
|2015||University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign||Susan Braxton (2015-)|
Estimate of Holdings:
In 1974, the Illinois Natural History Survey Library collection was reported to hold about 30,000 volumes of serials, periodicals, and monographs. As of 2007, it held 46,000 print volumes and 650 periodical subscriptions (print and electronic). In 2014 the Prairie Research Institute Library, which held the combined library collections of the Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center held 72,351 items, including 34,821 monographs, 37,091 serial volumes, and 877 items in its closed stacks. Subscriptions acquired through the natural history fund as of 2021 number more than 75 individual subscriptions as well as portions of journal collections from major publishers.
 Robert B. Downs, Guide to Illinois Library Resources. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1974), https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001176105.
 Beth Wohlgemuth, “Illinois Natural History Survey Library,” ILA Reporter, 2007.
State, Regional and National Importance:
In 1974, the collection was reported to be the fourth largest library collection covering systematic biology in the U.S. “The Library’s principal fields of interest are faunistics (taxonomy and systematics in all zoological fields), economic entomology, aquatic biology, plant identification and plant pathology, wildlife management, and environmental quality.” The publications exchange program with 600 partners, including many international partners, was noted. This historic collections’ importance can be seen in contributions to the Biodiversity Heritage Library of volumes once held in the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History and Illinois Natural History Survey Library, as evidenced by bookplates in the digitized works.
Responsibility for Collecting:
The Prairie Research Institute Librarian is responsible for selecting materials and managing the natural history collection and funds. This position is based in the Funk ACES Library, and is a member of the Life Sciences Division of the University Library.
Location of Materials:
A substantial and growing proportion of the collection is available online, including literature databases, most of the journal subscriptions, and collections of ebooks from major publishers (e.g., Springer, Elsevier, Wiley). In general, print materials published after 1990 and high-circulation items are housed in the Funk ACES Library along with similarly scoped collections in Agriculture, Biology, City Planning and Landscape Architecture. Older, low-circulating materials may be housed in the Oak Street Library. Some materials are housed in Main Stacks. Print materials in natural history meeting the criteria to be considered rare books are held in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Widely held serial runs that are available online have been contributed to the Shared Print Repositories of the Big Ten Academic Alliance.
Citations of Works Describing the Collection:
Forbes, Stephen A. “Report of the Director of the State Laboratory of Natural History.” In Thirteenth Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction 1878-1880, by S.M. Etter, 138–60, 1880. (an extensive catalog of early acquisitions is included)
Warrick, Ruth R. 1958. Library. Bulletin of the Illinois Natural History Survey, 27 (2):210-214.
Downs, Robert B. Guide to Illinois Library Resources. Chicago: American Library Association, 1974.
Knight, Erin. “INHS Library.” In Illinois Natural History Survey Annual Report 1995-1996, 1996.
Wohlgemuth, B. 2007. New library buildings, Illinois Natural History Survey Library. Illinois Library Association Reporter, 25(1): 14-15.
Also see, the annotated bibliography of INHS Library history for historic information on the Library from annual reports and other sources.
Endowments and Gift Funds that Support the Collection:
In 2003, John K. Bouseman led a group of donors in the establishment of the John K. Bouseman Natural History Survey Library Endowment Fund, which continues to provide support for library needs of the Illinois Natural History Survey beyond the University Library’s annual allocation of state funds.
II. General Collection Guidelines
Although English is the dominant language of the collection, materials in non-English languages are collected. International publications addressing biodiversity are actively sought and selected regardless of language. An international exchange program with natural history museums and similar research institutions provided considerable non-english language content until it ended in 2015 when the Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin became an online only, open access publication. (Many of the titles formerly received via the exchange have undergone similar transformations and are now available online).
Global coverage is an important strength of the collection and a critical need of biodiversity researchers, to support both international collecting and research and detection and identification of introduced species. While emphasis is placed on Illinois and the Midwest, there are no geographic limits on selection.
Electronic Resources Guidelines
For eBooks, the terms of acquisition should be DRM-free and should allow for ownership and multiple simultaneous user access. The ability to share print books via 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 authentication (resource-specific logins and passwords are generally not accommodated). Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the librarian.
Treatment of Subject:
Emphasis is on scholarly works, although popular works such as field identification guides are considered in scope. The concept “natural history” is covered comprehensively as it relates to biota, but generally excludes works limited to strictly physical aspects (e.g., meteorology, astronomy, geology). Coverage includes life histories, ecology, phylogeny, taxonomy, classification and identification (including of fossil organisms), wildlife, as well as environmental aspects, human dimensions, and management of biotic natural resources. Research at the Illinois Natural History Survey, which has evolved and continues to evolve over time, is reflected in the collection although selection is not strictly limited to those research areas.
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. Datasets and audio-visual materials are collected infrequently. Specialized genres emphasized in the collection include taxonomic catalogues, floras, and field/identification guides.
Date of Publication:
Current materials are emphasized, but retrospective works are acquired selectively.
Place of Publication:
III. Current Collecting Scope with Dewey and Library of Congress Subject Classifications
These classifications and specific foci guide selection with natural history funds. The Prairie Research Institute Librarian collaborates closely with bibliographers for related disciplines –especially biology, but also agriculture, city planning and landscape architecture, veterinary medicine and others as needed–to ensure researcher needs are met. Dewey as well as Library of Congress classifications are shown; as of 2021, new acquisitions are classified using Library of Congress (LC) classification.
|333||Economics of land & energy||Selective, see below|
|333.71||General topics of land, recreational and wilderness areas, energy|
|333.72||Land, recreational and wilderness areas, energy: conservation and protection|
|333.74-75||Grasslands, Forest lands|
|333.78||Land, recreational and wilderness areas, energy: recreational and wilderness areas|
|333.91||Water and lands adjoining bodies of water||wetlands, shorelines, lakes, rivers, streams|
|333.95||Biological resources||rare and endangered species; nonnative species; plants; animals; wildlife; biodiversity; biosphere|
|363.7||Other social problems & services: Environmental problems||environmental protection; impact of wastes, of pollution (emphasis on impact on biota, habitats, ecosystems)|
|508||Natural history||Selective, general works that include biota.|
|551.48||Hydrology||Selective; focus on limnology as related to biota|
|560s||Paleontology; paleozoology||Selective, focus on taxonomy, systematics, description, distribution of fossil organisms, and in collaboration with the geology selector.|
|565||Fossil arthropods||Selective, focus on insects, and in collaboration with the geology selector.|
|570||Life sciences; biology||Selective|
|576.8||Evolution||Selective; natural selection, extinction, phylogeny.|
|577||Ecology||All areas covered. Special emphasis on organisms and ecosystems present in Illinois and the Midwest.|
|578||Natural history of organisms||Selective, focus on taxonomy/systematics, museums/collections.|
|578.4||Adaptation||Selective, emphasize impact on biodiversity, distribution of organisms|
|578.6||Miscellaneous nontaxonomic kinds of organisms||Selective, emphasis on introduced/invasive species, threatened/endangered/rare species|
|578.7||Organisms characteristic of specific kinds of environments||Broad coverage without exclusions; special emphasis on environments important in Illinois and the Midwest (e.g., Prairies).|
|579||Natural History of microorganisms, fungi & algae||Selective, as relates to biodiversity, evolution, adaptation, ecology, biodiversity. General microbiology topics would be covered by the Biology fund.|
|579.5-579.6||Fungi, mushrooms||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|579.7||Lichens||Emphasis on biodiversity, evolution, ecology.|
|579.8||Algae||Emphasis on freshwater species, and on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology|
|580||Plants (Botany)||Selective; taxonomic biology, preservation of museum specimens, geographic treatment (floras?)|
|581||Specific topics in natural history of plants||Selective, see below|
|581.3||Genetics, evolution & age characteristics||Selective; emphasis on phylogeny.|
|581.6||Miscellaneous nontaxonomic kinds of plants||Selective; emphasis on native plants, nonnative/invasive plants, threatened and endangered plants|
|581.7||Plant ecology, plants characteristic of specific environments||Collect very broadly in this area|
|582||Plants noted for characteristics & flowers||Very selective; wildflowers|
|583||Dicotyledons||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|584||Monocotyledons||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|585||Gymnosperms; conifers||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|586||Seedless plants||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|587||Vascular seedless plants||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|588||Bryophytes||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|590||Animals (Zoology)||Selective; taxonomic biology, preservation of museum specimens, geographic treatment (faunas?)|
|591||Specific topics in natural history|
|591.3||Genetics, evolution & age characteristics||Selective; emphasis on phylogeny.|
|591.6||Miscellaneous nontaxonomic kinds of animals||Selective; emphasis on native animals, nonnative/invasive animals, threatened and endangered animals.|
|591.9||Animals by specific continents, countries, localities||Collect very broadly in this area; zoogeography; particular emphasis on Illinois and the Midwest.|
|592||Invertebrates||Emphasis on biodiversity, evolution, ecology.|
|593||Marine & seashore invertebrates||Selective|
|594||Mollusks & molluscoids||Emphasis on freshwater species, and on biodiversity, evolution, ecology|
|595||Arthropods||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|596||Chordates||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|597||Cold-blooded vertebrates; fishes||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|598||Birds||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|599||Mammals||Emphasis on biodiversity, identification, evolution, ecology.|
|639||Hunting, fishing, and conservation||Selective; cover wildlife and fisheries, but generally exclude aquaculture. Do not emphasize commercial fisheries.|
|639.9||Conservation of biological resources||Collect broadly in this area, including habitat improvement; population control; maintenance of reserves and refuges; plant conservation|
|799||Fishing, hunting, and shooting||Aces|
|799.1||Fishing||Selective, emphasis on recreational fisheries important in Illinois and the Midwest.|
|799.2||Hunting||Selective, emphasis on hunting/trapping activity important in Illinois and the Midwest|
|Library of Congress Class||Notes|
|GB||Physical Geography||Very selective, specific features, and aspects|
|GB561-649||Other natural landforms: Floodplains, caves, deserts, dunes, etc.||Very selective, as it relates to ecosystems and distribution and ecology of biota;|
|GB1201-1598||Rivers. Stream measurements|
|GB1601-2398||Lakes. Limnology. Ponds. Lagoons|
|GE||Environmental Sciences||Selective, as it relates to biota, habitats, ecosystems|
|QH||Natural History – Biology|
|QH1-278.5||Natural history (General), includes nature conservation, geographical distribution|
|QH359-425||Evolution||Selective, as it relates to biodiversity, phylogenetics.|
|QK1-474.5||General botany including geographical distribution||Selective, as it relates to natural history and conservation|
|QK474.8-495||Spermatophyta. Phanerogams||Selective; emphasis on biodiversity and systematics, identification of plants and fungi.|
|QL1-355||General Including geographical distribution||Selective, as it relates to natural history, wildlife, wildlife conservation|
|QL360-599.82||Invertebrates||Selective; emphasis on biodiversity and systematics, ecology, and identification of invertebrates including mollusks, annelids, arthropods; arthropods as carriers of disease.|
|QL605-739.8||Chordates. Vertebrates||Selective, emphasis on biodiversity and systematics, ecology, identification of vertebrates.|
|QL640-669.3||Reptiles and amphibians|
|QL750-795||Animal behavior||Selective, emphasis on behavior or non-domesticated animals in nature.|
|QL791-795||Stories and anecdotes||Selective, as it relates to the study of natural history/ecology.|
|QL799-799.5||Morphology||Very selective, as it relates to biodiversity and systematics.|
|SH||Aquaculture, fisheries, angling||Selective|
|SH201-399||Fisheries||Emphasis on freshwater fisheries, particularly in the Midwest.|
|SK351-579||Wildlife management. Game protection Including annual reports of game commissioners||Emphasis on Midwest game species, human dimensions of wildlife.|
|SK590-593||Wild animal trade|
|SK650-664||Wildlife-related recreation||Emphasis on Midwest game species, human dimensions of wildlife.|