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.
We need to renew our commitment to our magnificent but aging Library so that it can serve new purposes as well as continuing ones. This plan restarts a critical discussion: how can we help the Library continue to be a place that brings people together in ways that only a library can: around collections, across disciplines, and in touch with techniques and technologies that help us create and understand.John Randolph, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center
I came to Illinois decades ago in large part because of the Library. Its holdings in the American nineteenth century were a huge attraction. All these years, the Library has been my laboratory, letting me pursue new lines of inquiry using its vast print, manuscript, and digital collections. Taking these explorations in a collaborative direction is an obvious next step. Many colleagues in the humanities are ready to do the same. We’re fortunate that the Library is poised to take this step with us. Fortunate, too, is the next generation of humanities scholars the Library will help us bring to Illinois.Peter Mortenson, Associate Professor of English