FAQs

The Library is listening! We are currently putting together a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a question that’s not listed here, please submit it to librarybuildingproject@library.illinois.edu. Also, we welcome feedback at go.library.illinois.edu/LBPfeedback. We realize that a project of this significance will also result in concerns and, well, even occasionally unusual rumors! To that end, we also include a section of Occasionally Expressed Fears (OEFs). Please check back often for more information.

OCCASIONALLY EXPRESSED FEARS (OEFs)

No, the collection in the Main Library will be roughly the same size, just more focused on the humanities and social sciences.

No, the sixth addition of the Library’s stacks will remain in its current form, and shelving in the newest part of the building should make parts of the collection even more accessible. In the present conceptual design, the entire basement level is devoted to collections.

If only this were true! The plans in the Feasibility Study are only meant to demonstrate that the project is…feasible. The Library worked with Chicago-based Johnson, Lasky, Kindelin (JLK) Architects to develop a conceptual design. Following this year-long process, the next step will be to engage with a firm to begin developing schematic designs.

If the stars align, the Gies College of Business will lead in building a separate structure that will serve as a shared campus instructional facility. That effort is entirely unrelated to, and in no way affects, the Library’s building project.

The only new structure will be a building that replaces the oldest stack ranges in the Main Library. The Undergraduate Library building will need to be adapted, but the profile (e.g., height and/or overall footprint) of the building will not change.

Recently announced plans to reorganize collections and services related to Cinema Studies were prompted by service issues and are happening independently of the building project. The University Library does not reassign collection development or liaison responsibilities based on space concerns.

PROJECT VISION

The program envisions replacing the five stack additions located between the older portions of the Main Library Building and the remaining Sixth Stack Addition. The new space will have approximately five floors (basement plus four floors), allowing for the construction of adequate study and collaborative working spaces for students and faculty, new shelving, and spaces that will both promote scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

The vision outlined supports that mission. The strength of our collections is a foundation of the proposed project. It is our intent that the University Library will deliver fully as many volumes as it does today. We will also offer a suite of services to enhance our support of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

The University of Illinois built fantastic collections that serve as a magnet to attract the very best teachers and scholars. This vision will support the development of an equally fantastic library facility, one that will support undergraduate education, showcase and promote extraordinary collections, and make them available to scholars, faculty, and students in a manner entirely consistent with the University Library’s long history of supporting and bolstering scholarship in all disciplines.

Illinois remains one of the few campuses of its stature without a dedicated facility to house, preserve, and showcase its unique and scarce materials. The vision for a Special Collections Research Center located in the current Undergraduate Library Building dates to a feasibility study completed in 2009, which identified that location as an ideal place to be converted into a stand-alone facility that will provide the type of security and environmental control necessary to preserve those collections. The University Library and members of its special collections units engaged a consultant to help determine the exact scope of programming to be supported in this facility. The final conceptual designs for this facility are expected in late October 2019, which will include the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and significant elements of the University Archives.

ABOUT THE LIBRARY'S COLLECTIONS

Everyone on campus knows that the University Library holds over 14-million volumes. However, many are not aware that only 8.7-million of those items are bound, printed volumes or even where those volumes are located across our system. This chart below provides a fairly concise accounting of the print books, bound journals, musical scores, and other print collections in our holdings. These numbers do not include archival and manuscript collections, microforms, recorded sound collections, maps, or electronic resources. Library personnel gathered significant information in support of the efforts of the Managing the Library’s Collections Working Group. Those recommendations were referred to the Library’s standing Collection Management and Planning Working Group, which is working with unit heads in the Main Library to shape the collection going forward.

Locations of Collections Chart

The Main Library Building’s Stacks consist of six additions. These additions are referred to in the University Library as the East Stacks (Additions 1 – 5) and the West Stacks (Addition 6).

While the Library secured funding from the campus to install fire suppression a decade ago, addressed the chimney effect created by the lack of fire barriers in the East Stacks, secured screens for the windows, and addressed the worst effects of the overcrowding, the East Stacks lack effective environmental controls, resulting in an environment that accelerates the deterioration of the collections. Moreover, the space is inaccessible to those with mobility challenges, doesn’t support the sort of quiet study and scholarship that is valued by so many of our scholars, and is otherwise substandard when compared to the facilities that many of our peer institutions support.

Dating to the mid-1980s, the West Stacks are less challenging. The whole addition possesses solid environmental controls with an exceptional system installed in the two levels occupied by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s vault. Fire suppression exists throughout the West Stack addition, as do adequate fire exits and solid environmental controls.

The capacity in the West Stacks will accommodate a significant portion of the printed volumes within the East Stacks once the Rare Book and Manuscript Library relocates. As the project is completed, we anticipate that a significant portion of the collection will also move into the newly constructed Main Library Building spaces. While the Stacks are being removed and the new building is being constructed, the University Library will need to determine how it will best provide access to the collections. That will be determined as the project moves from a conceptual phase to implementation.

However, the University Library has no intention of withdrawing books expressly to diminish the overall collection size.

The policies that govern the management and deduplication of collections include:

Retention Policies in the Digital Age
This policy has remained unchanged since its initial approval in 2001, and with the notable exception that the State Procurement Code was amended to permit sale of surplus collections, the policy remains in effect and without amendment. It remains a keystone for managing the Library’s collections.

UIUC Library Withdrawal Policy and Procedure
Approved by the Library’s Collection Development Committee in 2010, this policy has also remained unchanged since its initial approval. It details existing policies that govern how we make many decisions about which materials from our collection may be withdrawn and what procedures are utilized to ensure that they are properly accounted for and handled.

The Library is party to three primary programs that leverage our historic strength as a repository while helping to ensure continued access to collections.

CARLI Last Copy Program

Nearly a decade ago, the University Library partnered with CARLI to develop and implement a mechanism to ensure that printed monographs of scholarly import would remain accessible to our patrons. Over the last decade, the University of Illinois added an average of 1,879 different titles per year to its holdings through this program.

HathiTrust Shared Print Program

Following initiation of the program’s operational phase, the University Library made a commitment in early 2018 to retain 1.5-million monographic titles in its collection that corresponded to monographic titles digitized and available via the HathiTrust. Recently, the University Library signaled its interest to HathiTrust leadership to retain additional titles during the second phase of this program, with plans to focus on filling gaps that exist in coverage from the program’s first phase. This program provides a mechanism for ensuring that research libraries can continue to provide access to printed monograph collections into the future.

Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Shared Print Repository 1.0 & 2.0

In an effort to ensure that access to journal content is preserved as libraries deduplicate highly-redundant journal volumes when online backfiles are available, in 2011 the BTAA created a Shared Print Repository program. By 2013, the BTAA outlined a program and began implementing its first phase, with Indiana University serving as the hub for approximately 250,000 volumes retained on behalf of the membership.

In 2015, the BTAA began a second phase of this program, proposing to retain a further 250,000 volumes at Illinois. With many of the larger publishers’ journals being retained at Indiana as part of the first phase, the second phase focuses more heavily on key humanities and social sciences publications published by societies and currently available via JSTOR and other online content providers. To date, the University Library has made commitments for over 100,000 volumes that are held locally and are also available online in full text. Our intent is to focus on locally-held items in order to maximize the local impact while minimizing our commitment to housing materials not already part of our holdings.

There are no plans to decrease the size of the collection to fit into the proposed facility. Retention and collection management decisions are governed by the aforementioned policies. The University Library is committed to preserving and providing access to our collections.

The net assignable square feet in the Undergraduate Library is equal to 68,623 square feet. The net assignable square feet in all of the spaces occupied by the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, Map Library, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and University Archives is 71,410 square feet. However, this volume includes storage locations in the basement of the Child Development Lab and at the Horticultural Field Lab totaling over 13,000 square feet. Moreover, the University Library determined that the Map Library would not be moving into the Undergraduate Library, leaving more space for the other units.

The University Library is committed to supporting the mail option for delivery of materials on campus. While the construction will result in materials being moved during construction, plans will be developed that seek to maximize access to the collections.

Currently, economical expansion of the Oak Street Library Facility (where approximately four million items are currently housed) is not feasible as the building has nearly reached the limits of the site and the surrounding properties are occupied by other buildings. Preliminary discussions have started with other units on campus about the possibility of a shared storage facility. Such models exist at other academic institutions, and the potential exists for a similar facility to develop on the Urbana campus in the coming years.

ABOUT THE BUILDING(S)

The University Library will attempt to meet all environmental standards in the construction as employed on this campus.

During construction, it is likely that the project will impact adjacent parking. The long-term impact will be determined as the project is more fully fleshed out.

In the conceptual design, the first floor is reserved primarily for lively collaboration, group study, and public event functions. Courtyards are enclosed at the first floor for spill over space from adjacent areas and allow more direct circulation between spaces that are otherwise disconnected. Within the Hub, the first and second floors are connected via a 2-story space that surrounds the main circulation area. Departmental libraries are co-located on the second floor, allowing adjacency and ease of access to users on first and third floors. The Media Center, Scholarly Commons, and Cooperative Research Commons are located on the third floor while quiet study areas and staff offices are on the fourth, isolated from noise on lower levels.

A café is envisioned in the new building space.

No. In fact, we will be reducing the overall space footprint.

The primary focus is on the spaces corresponding to Stacks 1 -5. It is the Library’s intent to integrate programs when appropriate without necessarily changing the character of the historic portions of the Main Library Building.

Yes. Any project of this nature requires that all renovated or newly constructed spaces meet the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Library’s Programming the Main Library Working Group has encouraged the architectural firm to consider incorporating universal design principles into their planning.

There are no plans to consolidate departmental libraries as part of this process.

Yes, additional details are to be determined, but there will be improvements to accessibility to comply with campus guidelines and ADA requirements. In the current conceptual design, main access points to the stacks will be from the first and second floors while secured access is available at all floors. The loading dock has been moved to the southwest corner of the building with the intention of sharing this space with the future instructional facility. Relocation of this service area to the south elevation of the building will allow the north elevation to be further beautified and become a more prominent entrance to the library.

The University Library will endeavor to ensure that construction is minimally disruptive; however, a program such as this cannot be implemented without impact on patron services.

Some of this is, of course, to be determined. As we work through the conceptual model and begin solidifying details with the programming team, the steps toward implementation will become increasingly clear, allowing us to determine where these services will be located during an interim period.

ABOUT THE FUNDING

Funding is likely to come from a number of sources, including state capital budget allocations, private donations, and university funding.

Although we will not embark on an active fundraising campaign until 2020, early gifts have been encouraging.

ABOUT THE PROCESS (INCLUDING TIMING)

At present, the project scope is best understood by reviewing the project vision. As the project is advanced, additional information will be provided on this website.

If the stars align, the Gies College of Business will lead in building a separate structure that will serve as a shared campus instructional facility. That effort is entirely unrelated to, and in no way affects, the Library’s building project.

A reasonable timeline for this project is that it will take approximately five years from the project kick-off until the project completion.

The University Library is working among its own personnel to establish working groups focused on programming the facility.

View the Managing the Library’s Collections Working Group here.
View the Programming the Main Library Building Working Group here.
View the Special Collections Research Center Working Group here.

Dean Wilkin and others in the University Library have been actively working with members of the University’s faculty and is soliciting input from members of the campus community via direct communication, informal conversations, and formal programming.

View the Library Consultation Working Group here.

View a list of 2018 meetings and 2019 meetings here.

More discussions are being planned and we are hoping for vigorous engagement from the faculty.

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS RESEARCH CENTER

The Special Collections Research Center is an integral part of the overall “Library Building Project.” It is helpful for us to think about the “Library Building Project” as an overall “umbrella” project with distinct, but connected components. The first component of this umbrella project is to realize a vision going back to at least 1973 that sought to develop a Special Collections Building on the Urbana campus. There have been many failed attempts to move forward with such a vision leaving Illinois as one of the few campuses of its stature without a dedicated facility to house, preserve, and showcase its unique and scarce materials. The vision for a Special Collections Building specifically located in the current Undergraduate Library space dates to a feasibility study completed in 2009, which identified that location as an ideal place that, once converted into a stand-alone facility, would provide the type of security and environmental control necessary to preserve those collections.

The second component of this umbrella project is the repurposing of a significant portion of the Main Library Building’s footprint in order to redevelop the space to serve as a collection-centric research facility that is designed to meet evolving instruction, research, and scholarship needs.

The Main Library Building is a vibrant component of this campus, and the collections that it holds are vital resources not only to the institution but to individual faculty members. However, components of the Main Library Building – most notably Stack Additions 1-5 – are functionally obsolete. Identified in scholarly papers published in the 1980s and 2000s as detrimental to the long-term preservation of the collections they hold, these Stack Additions are inaccessible to many in our community, prone to regular leaks, and suffered several minor electrical fires over the years. In short, while the spaces now have fire suppression, Stack Additions 1 – 5 actually promote the deterioration of the collections that they were designed to hold.

The plans as envisioned indicate that the University Library could construct a new facility of four floors and a basement level that will join the older parts of the Main Library Building with the remaining Sixth Stack Addition. Those new floors will be contiguous with the four existing floors and basement, allowing us to install new shelving facilities that will better preserve the collections as well as to build more accommodating and up-to-date study and collaborative work spaces for students and faculty. The newly configured spaces will be designed not only to promote scholarship in the humanities and social sciences but to encourage innovation and collaboration on many fronts. Successful completion of the overall Library Building Project will result in the Library being better positioned to support faculty and students to collaborate and explore their research. We also anticipate new opportunities to expand digital humanities programs and offer new venues that support seminars, workshops, and public engagement.

With a consolidated Special Collections Research Center located on adjacent land, the University Library will have realized the long-standing desire to create a hub for humanities and social sciences-based research.

The building has no documented history of groundwater leaks or flooding.

Originally built in 1969, the Undergraduate Library was engineered to address the potential for leaks and floods from a high water table. Shortly after the building opened, an October 1969 issue of Illinois Alumni News stated “Moisture and drainage have presented no problems, though some thought they might….” Nearly twenty years later, Rolf Fuhlrott’s article “Underground Libraries” published in the May 1986 issue of College & Research Libraries noted that “because the building is below the water table, it was to be constructed as a concrete boat. Rain and melting snow are taken off by a sump pump system. In the event of failure, an auxiliary generator assures power.” The concrete boat concept can be seen in the original construction documents for the building, still in the university’s possession and accessible to the Building Project Team. And, it can be seen in other contemporary structures (for example, Johns Hopkins University’s Milton S. Eisenhower Library, which is documented to have influenced our own decision to build underground). More recently, a deferred maintenance report commissioned by the campus in 2013 examined the facility and the backup pumping system, noting that an “Oversized sump pump was installed in lowered area of basement mechanical room with the expectation that a below-ground building would have flooding issues, this has turned out to not be the case.”

Throughout the life of this building, the university exercised due diligence in design and maintenance, which we fully expect will continue, particularly given the intended use of the space. Today, using underground facilities to store special collections materials is a commonplace occurrence. The Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress routinely use such facilities, as does the University of Virginia, and many others. What these libraries and ours all have in common is the need for the human element in our operation to ensure that we are prepared. The University Library benefitted from a Library-initiated University-wide disaster response contract (used to provide damage mitigation after fires at both UIC and UIUC and the mitigation of mold in our own existing Rare Book Room in the early 2000s). We have disaster plans and training for library personnel currently in place, and they will be updated to reflect the needs of different occupants in this building.

At present, the plan calls for the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections (IHLC), Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML), and elements of the University Archives to be housed within this building. We anticipate that the majority of the collections held by the IHLC and RBML in their current locations will be included in the new Special Collections Research Center. With respect to the University Archives, the exact composition of the collections and services to be housed within this facility is still under discussion. However, we anticipate that the public programs and significant holdings documenting the university’s history will be included. We also believe that the same will be the case for programs associated with the Student Life and Culture Archives and, potentially, the archives of the American Library Association.

In any case, there will need to be a continued relationship between the units housed in the Special Collections Research Center and the auxiliary storage locations managed by the University Library. This relationship is not uncommon in research libraries and, locally, will be viewed as an extension of an existing operational model that has been in place for decades.

Presently, none of these units house everything that they curate under one roof. Even our Rare Book & Manuscript Library makes use of appropriate auxiliary storage locations on campus. As designs are advanced for the facilities, the Library Building Project’s Special Collections Research Center Working Group will engage with members of the units to determine what they shall choose to be housed in these locations.

In advance of making that final determination, efforts are already underway in the units to enhance discoverability and ensure that no item – regardless of location – is hidden.

The University Library will seek to ensure that the environmental systems are all designed to meet best current standards for the preservation of special collections materials of the sort to be housed in this facility. That will include the development of agreed upon standards with the input of our Preservation and Conservation Services Unit, the installation of contemporary equipment and controls, and appropriate concern over upgrades to minimize any damage to materials from light exposure, improper storage furniture, or other substandard housing.

For the purpose of ensuring the collection’s security, we will refrain from any public discussion of the exact security technologies to be employed in the new or existing facilities.

A long-standing shortcoming of existing spaces occupied by the IHLC, RBML, and University Archives is the lack of sufficient instruction space and, in the case of the Student Life and Culture (SLC) Archives, the physical remoteness of SLC Archives programs and services from central campus. Discussion about the new Special Collections Research Center calls for facilities that can support a more expansive instruction and outreach program. This may include the installation of between three and four classrooms sufficient to hold up to thirty students each. Properly designed and executed, we anticipate that adjoining rooms could expand to accommodate larger classes. In addition, we have discussed the possibility of developing upwards of two seminar rooms that could be used for smaller classes.

Illinois occupies a leading role in developing educational programs that accommodate the needs of a highly-diverse student body. Shortly after World War II, this included the development of programs and facilities to serve those injured in service to our country. From these seeds, emerged a campus that remains a national leader in campus accessibility – serving students, faculty, staff, and community members with various abilities. That does not mean that there is not room for improvement. While the current Undergraduate Library meets the basic requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it does not meet emerging Universal Access design norms. Our desire is to develop a facility that will be as universally accessible as possible to our entire campus community as well as to the community of users that often attend programs and events in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library or the University Archives.

Presently, we are planning on developing both exhibit and event space in the renovated building.

Yes, the current plan is for the tunnel to continue to serve as a public thoroughfare between the Main Library Building and the Special Collections Research Center.