Since the founding of our great university, the Library has been a catalyst for University of Illinois scholarship and innovation. Now Illinois has a unique opportunity to create a new model of the research library, one that actively fosters engagement with grand challenges that transcend disciplinary boundaries and leverages access to enduring historical collections. A re-designed Main Library will provide a home for scholarly pursuits, some of them based in formally-defined centers. In addition to serving as the heart of our book collection, this Main Library building will also house many of the services and activities now found in the Undergraduate Library, including the Media Commons and large-scale library instructional activities. We will use the Undergraduate Library building as a dedicated home for rare and archival collections, easily accessible to the Main Library through the pedestrian tunnel; the special collections will strengthen many of these scholarly enterprises in the Main Library and will also inspire future generations of Illinois students to find their own voices in the ideas of their forebears.
The Main Library continues to be the home of a set of library collection-centric spaces that foster research and collaboration in the humanities and social sciences. Illinois has a long commitment to addressing questions that transcend disciplinary boundaries, and this interdisciplinarity is key to our institutional identity. Throughout its history, the University has attracted the brightest scholars because of a rich environment that nurtures their work and creates a transformative learning experience for their students. A physical space where planned and spontaneous encounters take place is a necessary corollary to virtual and networked interactions: this reimagining of the research library will foster serendipitous connections and real-time collaboration. The liberal arts, which cultivate critical inquiry and create exceptional value for the University of Illinois, will be strengthened by this investment. Our library collection is one of the largest and most distinctive in the world and has been a constant for the vital research ecosystem at Illinois. By combining this collection with a hub of scholarly activities, we will propel the University forward.