Prom Named Interim Dean of Libraries and University Librarian

Christopher Prom has been appointed to serve as the Interim Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian (Designate) pending approval by the Board of Trustees.

Professor Prom takes on this role after John P. Wilkin stepped down on November 30, 2022. The search process to recruit the next permanent dean is in its final stages. A new dean will be announced early in the spring semester. Professor Prom has agreed to serve in this interim role until the next dean’s appointment begins.

“Professor Prom emerged as the best candidate to serve in this important transitional role. Chris brings more than two decades of experience as a scholar and an administrator in the University Library. He has earned the trust of colleagues within the Library and across the campus. I am confident his leadership will allow the University Library to continue to advance its academic, research and service missions,” said Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost William T. Bernhard.


Christoper J. Prom is a Professor in the University Library and currently serves in two administrative roles: Acting Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation — Humanities, Arts and Related Fields (May 2022 – ) and Associate Dean for Digital Strategies — University Library (2018 – ).  From 2000 to 2018, he served as Assistant University Archivist in the University of Illinois Archives.

Chris holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marquette University and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois (2004).  He is a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists and previously served as its Publications Editor and Chair of the Publications Board.  He researches, presents, and teaches on topics related to digital archives and the preservation of digital cultural heritage materials.  He is currently directing two sponsored projects: Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community and Email Archiving in PDF: From Initial Specification to Community of Practice. Chris is also co-chair of the program committee for iPres 2023, an international digital preservation conference, which will be held at the University of Illinois in September 2023.  

Advancing Open Scholarship through HELIOS Initiative

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is pleased to be part of the HELIOS (Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship) initiative. Along with other colleges and universities, Illinois is committed to advancing Open Scholarship and promoting a more transparent, inclusive, and trustworthy research ecosystem.

HELIOS includes members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Higher education leaders affiliated with NASEM came together to ensure that open practices are applied throughout the teaching, learning, research, and scholarly environment in the best interest of the public and universities.

“HELIOS has grown out of a recognition that our universities must engage with the world, and an appreciation of the importance of the public’s access to our research,” said University Librarian and Dean of Libraries John P. Wilkin. “I am happy to serve as a representative to HELIOS on behalf of Illinois.”

Although the HELIOS effort pre-dates the new White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announcement on August 25, 2022, the updated OSTP guidance makes the work of HELIOS especially timely. New requirements will apply to all federal agencies, requiring federally-funded research be made openly available to the public.

“Illinois is fortunate to have a head start on addressing these new requirements,” Wilkin said. “Support structures are already in place and we have negotiated several key agreements to ensure that Illinois faculty will be able to publish much of their research Open Access at no cost to them.”

The University Library at Illinois, with support from Chancellor Robert J. Jones, launched a new website detailing the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s participation in HELIOS. The site will also include any HELIOS updates and activities. Visit

Illinois Newspaper Project Receives NEH Grant

The Illinois Newspaper Project (INP) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library has received a grant of $299,977 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), to digitize 100,000 pages of historical Illinois newspapers, as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the NEH and the Library of Congress. An NDNP partner since 2009, the Illinois Newspaper Project has contributed over 500,000 pages of digitized newspaper content.

The goal of the 2022-2024 grant is to digitize newspapers from geographically and demographically diverse Illinois communities. To this end, newspapers will be selected through a proposal process open to all Illinois libraries and cultural heritage repositories. Celestina Savonius-Wroth (head of the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library) and William Schlaack (Digital Reformatting Coordinator for Preservation Services) will lead the project.

Trial Access to ProQuest’s Electronic Resources Concluding August 2022

In 2019, the University Library secured trial access to the ProQuest “Access and Build Program” giving faculty, staff, and students at Illinois the ability to search 115 electronic resources. Over the years, the Library supported this evidence-based acquisition program, ProQuest added new databases, and the Library used accumulated credits to purchase those that demonstrated the most use. These multidisciplinary resources spanned the humanities, music and the arts, the social sciences, and some scientific disciplines, and each resource available through the ProQuest Access and Build program was marked in the Library’s catalog as being available on a trial basis.

The trial program will come to a close in August 2022 as the records are removed from the catalog. The Library utilized the purchase credits available through the program to acquire dozens of the more heavily-utilized databases permanently, including:

  • African American Music Reference
  • African Diaspora: 1860 – Present
  • Art and Architecture Archive 2
  • Art Forum Archive: 1962-2020
  • Audio Drama: the LA Theatre Works Collection
  • Black Drama Third Edition
  • British Periodicals Collection III
  • British Periodicals Collection IV
  • Classical Scores I
  • Classical Scores II
  • Classical Scores III
  • Classical Scores IV
  • Contemporary World Drama
  • Digital Bills and Resolutions 1788-2013
  • Education Magazine Archive
  • Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive collection 3: Film and Television
  • Environmental Issues Online
  • Ethnographic Film Online, Teaching
  • Food Studies Online
  • The GQ Archive
  • Historic Newspapers: Austin American Statesman: 1871-1980
  • Historical Newspapers: Communist Historical Newspaper Collection
  • Historical Newspapers: The Globe and Mail
  • Historical Newspapers: Leftist Newspapers and Periodicals
  • Historical Newspapers: Ottawa Citizen
  • Historical Newspapers: Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Historical Newspapers: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • Historic Newspapers: South China Morning Post: 1903-2001
  • Historical Newspapers: Toronto Star Subscription
  • House of Lords Parliamentary Papers, 1800-1910
  • Human Rights Studies Online
  • LGBT Magazine Archive
  • Mass Incarceration and Prison Studies
  • Music Online: Music Periodicals of the 19th Century
  • National Theatre Collections
  • News, Policy, & Politics Magazine Archives (feat/ Newsweek)
  • Psychological Experiments Online
  • Religious Magazine Archive
  • Revolution and Protest Online
  • The Rolling Stone Archive
  • Security Issues Online
  • Social Work Online
  • Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Volume I, Christianity
  • Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Volume II, Islam
  • Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Volume III, Judaism
  • Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Volume IV, Eastern Religions
  • Women’s Magazines II

A list of the titles that will no longer be available after August is available here.

University Library Program Grants Additional Funding for Preserving Email

The Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community (EA:BCC) is a multi-year initiative sponsored by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that brings together, supports, and funds a growing network of institutions and professionals working to develop critical solutions for preserving email.

Three new institutions were recommended for funding following a second round of proposals: the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the 92nd Street Y. An overview of these institutions’ programs is found here. Each project will use community-supported tools to process and provide access to email while demonstrating the value of email collections for humanities, social science, or other research. 

Nearly $400,000 was granted to the recipients in the first round to demonstrate and build capacity for a variety of archival institutions to process, preserve, and provide access to email using community-supported tools. Harvard University, University of Albany SUNY, Council of State Archivists, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago Library were among the five grantees in the first round. Read more about these individual projects here.

Through these two rounds of funding and nearly $650,000 allocated across eight institutions, EA:BCC continues to expand the email archiving network and provide resources and solutions for continuous development. 

As EA:BCC approaches its second year, there have been developments in email archiving software and capacity-building efforts. To learn more, please visit the “Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community” project website at

New OA Publishing Agreement with Wiley Benefits Authors at Illinois

Update: A new agreement in 2023 replaced the following agreement. Read more here.

A new pilot agreement between the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) and Wiley, a global leader in publishing, education and research, offers benefits to those who publish at the University of Illinois. Researchers publishing as the corresponding author in any of Wiley’s hybrid journals (subscription-based journals that offer an open access option) may publish open access (OA) at no cost or at a discount. The agreement also maintains existing access to Wiley’s online journal collection.

More specifically, under the eligibility requirements at Illinois, the first two-thirds of its authors who opt into the program have the opportunity to publish their articles open access without paying Article Processing Charges (APCs); once the waivers for the year have been used, the remaining one-third are eligible to receive a 10% discount on APCs. A manuscript must be accepted at an eligible Wiley hybrid journal between February 1 and December 31, 2022, and the corresponding author must be at Illinois to qualify. A list of eligible Wiley journals under the agreement is located at

During the pilot year, the BTAA will continue to work towards a longer-term agreement that expands open access publishing options even further.

“This agreement is an important step in the transition toward a publishing environment in which a greater percentage of our scholarship is freely available. We are glad to have a strong partnership with the BTAA and to bring the benefits of that partnership to our university,” said Tom Teper, Associate Dean and Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services. 

For more details about the agreement, visit

For a list of existing waiver programs for Illinois authors with other publishers, visit

Archives and Special Collections Facility Approved by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

East Pavilion – Aerial from Southeast View from Northeast

Today, the Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois approved the first phase of the University Library’s building project.

Phase One of the building project will transform the current Undergraduate Library building into a facility that will house the University Archives, the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, and The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Between campus support, fundraising, and internal allocations, the entirety of the $50M in funding has been secured for construction. The first phase is expected to be completed in 2024.  Read more…

University Library Receives IMLS National Leadership Grant to Preserve Email

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a $248,326 National Leadership – Libraries Grant to the Library at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The project’s goal is simple: to make it easier for archives, businesses, journalists, and individuals from all walks of life to preserve email.

The two-year “Email Archiving in PDF: From Initial Specification to Community of Practice” project will establish a Liaison Working Group in collaboration with the non-profit PDF Association ( The group will create a detailed technical specification for a PDF technology-based approach to the long-term preservation of email (EA-PDF). The project will also develop open-source software demonstrating the ability to create EA-PDF files. Developing this specification within the PDF Association facilitates exposure to and input from industry partners who may wish to support EA-PDF in their products.

The IMLS investment in this Illinois-led project will drive a potent initiative to help government agencies, libraries, archives, museums, and businesses preserve and provide access to email archives. Email documents how businesses, organizations, and citizens interact and make decisions. As the New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo has noted, “[Email] preserves time, location and state of mind, the what-when-where-and-who of every story we might want to dig up.”* News stories routinely cite email as a source of information, but there are few easily-used tools that preserve the entirety of a message or allow for its contents to be judged authentic.

“Email is the modern equivalent to the handwritten letters and typescript memos that fill archives and special collections libraries around the world. This project will make it easier for archives worldwide to preserve email,” said Associate Dean for Digital Strategies and Professor in the University Library Chris Prom, who will direct the project. “That’s important not only in its own right, but because email gives citizens and scholars the ability to fully plumb the depths of this wonderful, confusing thing we call history—our understanding and interpretation of past events.” 

PDF is a preferred target format for emails in part because many archives already use the PDF format to preserve other forms of written communication.  The EA-PDF specification will complement and extend existing approaches to email archiving and help to preserve these emails by building on existing universally-accepted technology. By providing an entirely vendor-neutral platform for preserving email that meets archival requirements and utilizes accepted technology, the project is well-positioned to find rapid adoption throughout the library, academic, and preservationist communities. 

The proposed work will leverage PDF as an accepted archival document technology with its reliable rendering and appearance, while also utilizing existing PDF features for preserving email’s native structures for other uses. Given the project’s early and continuous exposure to industry, as well as the interest already demonstrated, it is reasonable to anticipate broad engagement in the development of the specification, setting the table for widespread adoption,” said Duff Johnson, CEO of the PDF Association. “The PDF Association is delighted to continue its partnership with the University Library and engage in this further collaboration to realize a fully interoperable EA-PDF specification.” 

The EA-PDF project runs through August 2023 and extends Illinois’ record of leadership in this area, seen through prior grant projects. The project is also supporting an EA-PDF Community Fellow, Eden Irwin. She is a graduate student in the University of Illinois School of information, and the IMLS support and grant are providing her with the opportunity to complement and extend her formal education with practical experience in the digital preservation community.

The EA-PDF project will release the specifications and software in 2022 and 2023. As with many Library projects, the University will make these materials available under creative commons on open source licenses, so that they are freely available for application, reuse, and extension.

More information about the project can be found at

Read the PDF Association’s own announcement.


*Manjoo, Farhad. “What We Lose When the World Moves On From Email.” The New York Times, July 12, 2017, sec. Technology.

Undergraduate Library Update

The Undergraduate Library will remain open through the end of the Spring 2022 semester. As announced in 2018, the building will be converted over the next few years into an Archives and Special Collections building. Services for undergraduate students will be integrated into the Main Library, Grainger Engineering Library Information Center, Funk ACES Library, and other units around campus by the start of classes in Fall 2022.  Transition planning is currently underway for popular services including the Writers Workshop and Media Commons.  The Library looks forward to welcoming students into these renovated spaces in the coming academic year. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the new UGL Updates web page at