Scholarly Publishing Opportunities Expanding at Illinois

Last month, the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) made a series of announcements regarding its support of Open Access (OA) initiatives across its member libraries. Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use those articles fully in the digital environment. Put plainly, Open Access ensures that anyone, anywhere, can access and use information. By supporting these developments in OA, the BTAA aims to make information more accessible to the university community, to benefit scholars by eliminating paywalls to research, and to help researchers to publish their own work. Read more on Commons Knowledge, the blog from the Scholarly Commons.

University of Illinois Library Announces New Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

Dwight Thomas Photo |

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library has announced the appointment of Victor Jones, Jr. as its first Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. Jones begins his new role on July 16, 2021.

“I’m thrilled to have Victor Jones joining the University Library as director of DEIA initiatives. His perspectives, experience, and energy were all key to his emerging as the top candidate in an exceptionally strong pool,” said John P. Wilkin, the Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian. “The Library is eager to advance Library and University efforts in support of BIPOC communities and with regard to accessibility. Victor’s leadership and, indeed, partnership will be especially important to our success.”

Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in African American Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Science in College Student Affairs from Eastern Illinois University, and a Master of Divinity from Christ Ministries School of Divinity. Since 2014, he has worked for the School of Information Sciences (iSchool at Illinois), first as a recruitment specialist and then as the Assistant Director of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives. 

“Promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice rank very high on my list of personal and professional goals. One of the primary reasons I chose a career in higher education was to serve as a catalyst for lasting change,” said Jones. “In an age where information is comparable to currency, being in a position to provide leadership and advocacy at one of the largest research libraries in the country is a tremendous opportunity.”

University Library Announces Architectural/Engineering Firms

Artist's concept of the renovation.
Artist’s concept of the renovation.

The Library at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has announced that the design of its new archives and special collections building will be jointly led by Champaign-based RATIO Architects and Boston-based Shepley Bulfinch.

These firms will lead a team that will embark on transforming 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. Their work will kick off the first phase of a multi-stage project that will culminate in the redevelopment of the 100-year old Main Library Building as a rich hub of research and learning for the University’s community of humanities and social sciences scholars.

The University Library issued a Request for Proposals for a design architect on October 22, 2020. A total of 25 proposals were received and evaluated. After narrowing the pool down to seven, a final round of presentations and evaluations led to a strong endorsement by members of the University Library and the project team of the submittal delivered by RATIO and Shepley Bulfinch.

The architectural and engineering teams were chosen for their collective expertise and experience with similar projects; their understanding of the project requirements and schedules; their proposed approach to working with project stakeholders; their approach to designing a space that will incorporate accessibility and universal design principles; and their experiences working with like materials. The evaluative team devoted particular attention to the expertise of preservation consultants engaged by the project teams and the experiences of team members in designing and renovating facilities intended to house special collections materials.

“Our extraordinary rare and archival collections have long deserved a home commensurate with their scope and quality,” said John P. Wilkin, the Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian. “The renovation of the Undergraduate Library enhances our ability to preserve the collections and will support an improved level of access for future generations of scholars.”

The primary firms have executed many designs and renovations for other libraries. In addition to numerous Urbana-campus projects, RATIO’s portfolio includes the Thomas S. & Harvey D. Wilmeth Active Learning Center at Purdue University; the Krannert Memorial Library at the University of Indianapolis; and the Roy O. West Library at DePaul University. Shepley Bulfinch’s previous work includes the Firestone Library at Princeton University, the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University; the Hesburgh Libraries at Notre Dame; the Alfred R. Goldstein Library at the Ringling College of Art and Design; and Harvard University’s Lamont Library. Other project team members contributed to the successful execution of projects at the National WWI Museum; the National September 11 Memorial; Library and Archives Canada’s Gatineau 2 Preservation Facility; and the Rhode Island State Archives.

“The evaluation team was particularly impressed by the comprehensive expertise of the successful bidders. With awards for the Firestone and Rubenstein library projects and a strong team versed not only in architectural preservation and adaptive reuse but the preservation of library materials, the RATIO/Shepley Bulfinch proposal rose to the top,” said Thomas Teper, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services and Project Director, Library Building Project.

Speaking on behalf of RATIO, Principal Architect Kevin Huse noted “This is an exciting and unique opportunity to be part of uniting these remarkable collections and pieces of history into a unified center that will preserve the collections for generations and enhance accessibility for everyone.”

The Undergraduate Library building was first built in 1969. Plans for a renovation, identifying the building as the ideal site to serve the Library’s archives and special collections, were introduced in 2009. The national economic situation delayed continued development. In early 2018, those plans were revisited. Since then, campus feedback has been sought actively through numerous discussions and town hall sessions, a campus-wide committee submitted recommendations, and a Special Collections Research Center Working Group was formed within the Library to directly engage in the planning process.

“It is no accident that the growth of Illinois into an internationally recognized and world-class university has coincided with the growth and development of one of the most important and most distinguished academic libraries in the country,” said Andreas Cangellaris, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “This is a vital first step forward to ensure that our University Library continues to provide the vibrant heartbeat our university needs to continue to be one of the most influential universities in the world.”

To ensure the archives and special collections building reflects the University Library’s vision and aspirations while meeting the needs of the campus community, broad consultations have and will continue to be part of the design process. The building has a $46 million project budget with more than $40 million already secured. It is slated to be completed in 2024.

RATIO, founded in 1982, is a design firm that has “achieved international recognition on the strength of projects requiring complex consensus-building and contextual design in urban and campus environments” with five studios located in Champaign, IL; Chicago, IL; Raleigh, NC; Denver, CO; and Indianapolis, IN. More information is available at

Boston-based Shepley Bulfinch is a national architecture firm and a woman-owned business enterprise with offices in Hartford, CT; Houston, TX; and Phoenix, AZ. More information is available at

Doris Duke Native Oral History Revitalization Project Supported by Grant

At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Bethany Anderson (Natural and Applied Sciences Archivist, University Library), in collaboration with Christopher J. Prom (Associate Dean for Digital Strategies, University Library) and Jenny Davis (Associate Professor of American Indian Studies and Anthropology and Chancellor’s Fellow of Indigenous Research and Ethics, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences), have been awarded the Doris Duke Indian Oral History Program Archives: Revitalization and Community Building Grant by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

This two-year grant of $196,000 will support the Doris Duke Native Oral History Revitalization Project, in which the University of Illinois Archives will digitize and enhance access to its Doris Duke Indian Oral History Program Archives. Furthermore, this project hopes to build and strengthen respectful relationships between the project personnel, the university, the University Archives, and the Native Nations documented in the Doris Duke Oral History Program Archives. The University of Illinois is one of seven institutions participating in The Doris Duke Native Oral History Revitalization Project.  Read more…

Email Archives Building Capacity and Community

The University Library has announced the institutions recommended for direct funding through the Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community (EA:BCC) re-grant program. In its first round, the EA:BCC awarded grant funding to five institutions deeply involved in innovative email archiving activity: Harvard University; University of Albany, SUNY; Council of State Archivists, Inc.; Columbia University; and the University of Chicago Library.

Nearly $400,000 was distributed amongst the awardees to illustrate and build capacity for a wide range of archival institutions to process, preserve, and provide access to email using community-supported tools. In addition, the awardees represent the diverse nature of institutions contributing to the advancement of current email archiving practices. The combined effort and outcomes of these projects will make significant progress in the adoption, productivity, and efficacy of email archiving. 

The EA:BCC program is a four-year program that will build the capacity for archives, libraries, and museums to collect and better preserve email as part of the historical record in their research collections. We invite you to learn more by visiting our project website at Included below is a brief description of the five institutions’ programs recommended for funding. 

Integrating Preservation Functionality into ePADD, Harvard University ($100,000.00)

Harvard University will integrate long-term email preservation functionality into ePADD, an open source email archiving software program which already supports archival appraisal, processing, discovery, and delivery. Harvard and its project partners, the University of Manchester and Stanford University, will enhance ePADD’s functionality to provide a tool that more comprehensively and robustly supports the email archiving lifecycle. Supported features of the new product, known as ePADD+, will include local customization and extensibility to accommodate institutions that require alternative preservation packaging. In addition, local deployments at the three partner institutions will validate ePADD+’s broad applicability for diverse institutional needs and act as exemplars for similar deployment in other programmatic contexts across the email archiving community. 

Mailbag: A Stable Package for Email with Multiple Masters, University of Albany, SUNY ($63,890.00)

The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Albany, SUNY will create Mailbag, a functional specification based on the BagIt specification, in addition to, a software tool to create and manage Mailbags. One key feature of Mailbag is the ability to preserve multiple masters for email archives in a structured and actionable format. This will allow archivists to rapidly capture email and fix it in a stable package for later processing and access. Additionally, the project team will create a Python library and command line utility with a basic Graphic User Interface (GUI) for creating and managing Mailbags that will use web archiving technology to preserve external context and enable archivists to easily acquire email and store it in a stable manner.

CoSA PREPARE: Preparing Archives for Records in Email, Council of State Archivists, Inc. ($100,000.00)

CoSA will develop and deliver capacity-building activities for email preservation and access to state, territorial, and the District of Columbia archives. The program will focus on providing practical solutions for the collection, preservation, and accessibility of email generated by government officials and key legislators through the following activities: needs assessment; development of best practice documents; applications, tools, and protocols testing; and technical assistance and mentoring. These outcomes will foster ongoing learning, information exchange and collaboration to build the capacity for the preservation of governmental records. 

Creating Email Archives from PDFs: The Covid-19 Corpus, Columbia University ($98,630.04)

Columbia University will contribute email archiving solutions on both ends of the email stewardship cycle — acquisition and preservation, on one end, and research access, on the other. The focus will be on government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic that are being released through FOIA requests made available online by journalists. Consequently, researchers are facing a number of challenges accessing these records and cannot easily determine the scope of arrangement of the collections, or find descriptions of the contents of the main components. To combat these challenges Columbia will build an open-source tool and associated library that takes email embedded in PDFs as input and generates an MBOX file as output, thereby making these records compatible with existing email archiving solutions. In addition, the project team will process a large corpus of FOIAed records on Covid-19 to enhance its value to researchers and to develop it into a new collection as part of the Freedom of Information Archive (FOIArchive), an aggregated database of government records. 

Attachment Converter: Preserving the Context of Electronic Correspondence, University of Chicago Library ($40230.00)

The University of Chicago Library will build the Attachment Converter, software that will take command-line conversion tools and use them to batch-convert attachments in an email collection into recommended formats for digital preservation. The software will efficiently preserve and contextualize email attachments, which are often significant documents in a large range of proprietary and obsolete formats. This effort will increase the capacity of The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library to collect correspondence in all forms and contribute to its mission of documenting University activities and supporting teaching and learning on campus.  The project team plans to collaborate with colleagues from other institutions to ensure that the Attachment Converter will accommodate a broad range of documents and archival workflows. The Attachment Converter will be made freely available to the archival community.


Associate Dean for Digital Strategies
University Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1408 W. Gregory Drive, #246G | M/C 522
Urbana, IL 61820
+1 (217 )244-2052 |


Email Archives Community Fellow
Office of Digital Strategies

Main/Undergraduate Library Integration Project Draft Plans Posted

The University Library has posted drafts of working group reports detailing plans for integrating core student services offered in the Undergraduate Library into other campus libraries over the coming year. The drafts provide initial recommendations informed by discussions and analysis of long-term usage data and recent student surveys that have taken place over the past several months. The Main/Undergraduate Library Integration Project will result in new and refined combinations of student-focused services, which address both time-honored and emerging needs for supporting academic and student life success.

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to an open forum to discuss the project’s progress and make recommendations to team members. The forum will be hosted Thursday, April 8th, from 10:30am-Noon. To register for the event, please visit:

Final recommendations will be presented to the University Library’s Executive Committee in May 2021. Implementation of the team’s recommendations will begin in Summer 2021, with the Undergraduate Library formally closing in Spring 2022 to allow for the construction of the archives and special collections building. Library personnel will continue to assess services and make adjustments as the archives and special collections building project is completed. The Library welcomes feedback from students, faculty, and staff on priorities for undergraduate library services, and significant areas the team should focus on in designing spaces that encourage community building among undergraduate students while connecting them to academic and student life needs.

To provide feedback, please fill out our survey here: 

Library Solicits Feedback for Integrating Core Student Services from the Undergraduate Library into Campus Libraries

The University Library is currently developing plans for integrating core student services offered in the Undergraduate Library into other campus libraries. Informed by long-term usage data and recent student surveys, the Main/Undergraduate Library Integration Project will result in new and refined combinations of student-focused services, which address both time-honored as well as emerging needs supporting academic and student life success. Appointed by the Library’s Executive Committee and with the support of the Dean of Libraries, a cohort of internal working groups drawn from librarians from across campus will develop a holistic plan to address student needs across major physical spaces, including the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center and Funk ACES Library, as well as the Main Library.

The Main/Undergraduate Library Integration Project complements existing plans to construct an archives and special collections building in the current Undergraduate Library building, and further develop the model outlined in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) Redevelopment Plan Programming and Conceptual Design Study. Library facility discussions have previously ensued during numerous listening sessions, a January 22, 2020 Town Hall, and other campus meetings, as well as through the work of a campus-wide committeethe Library Consultation Working Group.

The integration project recommendations will specifically address user needs and service models during the time period when the archives and special collections building is being constructed. The Library anticipates discussions about the longer-term future of the Main Library building to be ongoing and informed by lessons learned during the SCRC construction phase.

A description of the project’s scope is available here: 

Implementation of the team’s recommendations will begin in Summer 2021, with the Undergraduate Library formally closing in Spring 2022 to allow for construction of the facility for archives and special collections. Library services will continue to evolve and be assessed as the archives and special collections building project is completed. The Library welcomes feedback from students, faculty, and staff on priorities for undergraduate library services, and significant areas the team should focus on in designing spaces that encourage community building among undergraduate students while connecting them to academic and student life needs.

To provide feedback, please fill out our survey here:  

U of I Authors to Benefit from New Read and Publish Agreements with Cambridge University Press and PLOS

U of I researchers publishing as the corresponding author in Cambridge University Press (CUP) journals and in two PLOS (Public Library of Science) journals are eligible for a waiver of open access (OA) publishing fees for any article submitted beginning January 1, 2021. 

The new pilot license agreements, negotiated by the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA), provides authors from Illinois the opportunity to publish their articles Open Access for no additional cost. The pilot agreement with Cambridge lasts two years, while the PLOS agreement will continue for three years.

“With the growing prominence of open access publishing and the use of article processing charges to fund many OA titles, the Library appreciates this effort by the BTAA to explore ways to reduce costs for Illinois authors while increasing the global impact of their research,” said Dan Tracy, head of Scholarly Communication and Publishing at Illinois.

The Read and Publish agreement negotiated by the BTAA with Cambridge University Press, includes reading access for UIUC researchers for all CUP journals (403 titles across HSS and STM disciplines) and waives article processing charges (APCs) for University of Illinois authors publishing research articles in fully open access or hybrid open access journals. This agreement does not include Cambridge OA books or fully subscription journals.

The agreement requires that authors elect to publish open access; they must opt into participation when they submit an article by choosing the open access publication option. However, if an author forgets to do so or wishes to opt-in later, it is possible to opt-in retroactively as long as the article was originally received by Cambridge in the eligible time period (January 2021 – December 2022). After publication, Cambridge will contact authors to give them a chance to retroactively opt-in if they did not do so during submission.

A full list of journals that shows those that are fully OA or hybrid OA is at

The corresponding author must be at Illinois for the APC waiver to apply. Researchers should use their email when submitting their articles. Authors will choose a Creative Commons license when they select the option to participate in the program.

The agreement with PLOS provides uncapped, no-fee publishing in two highly-selective, fully open access journals (PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine) for articles with corresponding authors from Illinois. For those with corresponding authors from non-BTAA member institutions, the publication receives a 25% discount on the article processing charges.    

More details about both agreements are on the BTAA website at

For a list of existing waivers with other publishers, visit

Lynne Thomas Wins Ninth Hugo Award

Photo of Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas, head of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, has won a Hugo Award—science fiction’s most prestigious award. This now makes Thomas a nine-time Hugo Award winner.

Hugo Award winners were announced by CoNZealand, the 78th Worldcon, held virtually on August 1, 2020. Thomas won for Best Semiprozine (a non-professional periodical publication) for Uncanny Magazine. Thomas is the co-editor-in-chief and publisher of Uncanny Magazine with her husband Michael Damian Thomas.

Past Hugo Award wins for Thomas include Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It (Best Related Work) in 2011; SF Squeecast (Best Fancast) in 2012 and 2013; Best Editor, Short Form and Uncanny Magazine (Best Semiprozine) in 2018; and Uncanny Magazine (Best Semiprozine) in 2016, 2017, and 2019. A comprehensive list of her awards is found in the Science Fiction Awards Database at


New Transformative Publishing Agreements Established

Book with Library U of I Urbana-Champaign on pages

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has established transformative publishing agreements with two organizations. IEEE announced its agreement with the University of Illinois on May 13, 2020. In addition, a new agreement between the university and the Microbiology Society went into effect earlier this year. 

The three-year Open Access Read and Publish agreement with IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization for engineering, computing, and technology information around the globe, is the first such agreement for the University of Illinois with a major publisher. Both the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UI) and Chicago (UIC) campuses are part of the IEEE content agreement. Researchers at both campuses will have access to the IEEE Xplore Digital Library and U of I authors will publish articles via open access in nearly 200 journals and magazines published by IEEE. 

“The University of Illinois Libraries are pleased to be a part of this agreement with IEEE,” said UIC University Librarian Mary Case together with UI University Librarian John Wilkin. “We have long been committed to the transformation of the scholarly publishing system and see this as an important new model in making the research of our faculty openly and broadly available.”

William Mischo, head of the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center, added, “This agreement will allow the groundbreaking research, educational activities, and innovation generated by the University of Illinois faculty to be open upon publication to the State of Illinois and to the world.”

Large monetary contributions from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), the Grainger College of Engineering, the Office of the Provost at Illinois, and the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center technology endowment went toward the agreement with IEEE.

More information about the university’s agreement with IEEE is located at

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign transitioned its agreement with the Microbiology Society into a new Publish and Read model. Under the agreement, authors at Illinois can publish articles accepted to any Microbiology Society journal as fee-free open access publications. Those at Illinois will also have unlimited access to the entire Society portfolio of journals, including Microbiology and Journal of General Virology; the agreement is an alternative to those and the Society’s other subscriptions and Article Processing Charges (APCs).

“Facilitating open access to further the sharing of scientific information, particularly from such a long-standing and prestigious society is a huge success,” said Biosciences Librarian Kelli Trei. “I hope for many more agreements of this kind to further the dissemination of groundbreaking research.”

About IEEE
IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice in a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers, and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics. For more information about the IEEE, visit

About The Microbiology Society
The Microbiology Society is a membership charity for scientists interested in microbes, their effects and their practical uses. It is one of the largest microbiology societies in Europe with a worldwide membership based in universities, industry, hospitals, research institutes and schools. For more information about the Microbiology Society, visit