Math Librarian Honored with Professorship

The University Library has named Timothy W. Cole, head of the Mathematics Library, for the Elaine and Allen Avner Professorship in Interdisciplinary Research. Cole holds this honor as of April 16, 2018, continuing for five years.

The professorship was established with a gift from longtime Library Friend Allen Avner in November 2017. Cole will carry out research in fields connected to the application of information technologies in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary fields of research.

“Elaine and Allen Avner were pioneers in the application of computer technologies to learning systems,” said William Mischo, head of the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center. “I’ve had several wonderful conversations with Allen over the enhanced role that information and digital library technologies play in the research and instructional mission of the University of Illinois. Tim’s work exemplifies the role of the library as a major player in emergent and interdisciplinary research and, through Allen’s generosity, this professorship will provide resources to expand these conversations.”

“It will be a singular honor to serve as the inaugural Allen and Elaine Avner Professor in Interdisciplinary Librarianship, and I am most appreciative of this opportunity to further my research into the novel ways libraries can apply technologies to better support interdisciplinary scholarship and pedagogy. This professorship recognizes the importance of multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approaches and will facilitate new and ongoing national and international collaborations, not only with library colleagues, but also with domain scholars in an array of disciplines. Looking beyond the parochial engenders more effective research and leads to outcomes that benefit not only our Library alone but also this campus and other research libraries and institutions more broadly,” said Cole. He added, “Truly an exciting opportunity!”

The appointment was open to any Library faculty member at the associate professor or professor rank.

“Tim was selected in a highly competitive process,” said John P. Wilkin, dean of libraries and university librarian. “Throughout his 25-year career, Tim has consistently demonstrated a singular vision for the role of information technologies in academic library services; the external reviewers were full of praise for Tim’s scholarship and contributions to the profession.”

Cole received his BS in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1978 and his MS in library and information science in 1989, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At Illinois, he has been on the Library faculty since 1990 and the affiliated faculty in the School of Information Sciences since 2009. From 1978 until 1988, Cole worked as a propulsion systems engineer, including three years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In 2017, Cole was honored with the Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology from the OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association.

The Investiture of Lynne M. Thomas

From left to right: Barbara M. Jones, Lynne M. Thomas, and John P. Wilkin

On April 6, the University Library celebrated the investiture of Lynne M. Thomas, who joined the Library as the head of its esteemed Rare Book & Manuscript Library September 1, 2017. She now holds the title of Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Rare Book & Manuscript Professor.

Endowed chairs are the highest honor the university can bestow on faculty members. Named positions like this enhance the Library’s services, programs, and reputation by recognizing and fostering the considerable research contributions of its faculty.

Given that the goal of the professorship is to enhance the scholarly research of faculty by providing them with additional resources, it was appropriate to have Paul Ellinger, associate chancellor and vice provost for budget and resource planning, as a special guest at Professor Thomas’s investiture.

Another special guest included Professor Thomas’s mentor and former colleague, Barbara M. Jones, who served as head librarian of rare book and special collections at Illinois from 1996-2003. Dr. Jones hired Thomas as a graduate assistant during her tenure. Dr. Jones’s dedication inspired the gift which endowed her position in 2002 which, at the time, was the Library’s first faculty chair.

“I return to a Rare Book and Manuscript Library that has flourished and grown in the twenty years since I first left its ranks, through the careful stewardship of the former faculty, staff, and students who served these collections, this campus, and our wider community admirably over that time,” said Professor Thomas. “I promise to repay that work to the best of my ability as I continue that tradition.”

The professorship was established through a significant estate gift from longtime Library friends Robert Simpson and his wife, Juanita. Robert was a University of Illinois alumnus with a BA in English Literature, who went on to a successful sales and manufacturing career in Ohio. The endowment—a permanent trust invested to provide a long-term source of funding—will continue to be used to finance the perpetual needs of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

“I am deeply grateful to the Simpson family for choosing to support the Library, and endow this position in particular. Their investment in the work that I do here in the RBML, and the generations of stewardship for these publicly-available collections that it represents, is a charge that I will work every day to continue to be worthy of,” said Thomas. “It’s good to be home.”

2018 Image of Research

The Scholarly Commons of the University Library and the Graduate College partnered to host The Image of Research, a competition celebrating the diversity and breadth of graduate student research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Graduate and professional students at Illinois were invited to submit entries consisting of an image and brief text articulating how the image relates to the research. Entries were judged by a multidisciplinary panel for connection between image, text, and research; originality; and visual impact.

Awards were presented at a reception on April 4, 2018, in conjunction with Graduate Student Appreciation Week at Illinois. Finalists are posted at

The Image of Research is supported by a generous gift to the Scholarly Commons from the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. For more information about the competition, please visit

Three Hugo Award Nominations for Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas, head of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, has been nominated for science fiction’s most prestigious award—the Hugo Award. Thomas, already a five-time Hugo Award winner, joined the University Library in July 2017.

Hugo Award finalists were announced on March 31, 2018. Thomas is nominated for Best Editor, Short Form; Best Semiprozine (a non-professional periodical publication) for Uncanny Magazine; and Best Fancast for the Verity! Podcast.

Thomas is the co-editor-in-chief and publisher of Uncanny Magazine with her husband Michael Damian Thomas. Six of the 18 short fiction finalists on the Hugo Award nomination ballot are from Uncanny: one nomination for Best Novella; two nominations for Best Novelette; and three nominations for Best Short Story.

“I am humbled and pleased to be honored by the science fiction community for my work on Uncanny Magazine and Verity!” said 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; and Uncanny Magazine (Best Semiprozine) in 2016 and 2017. In addition to these five wins, Thomas has garnered 14 Science Fiction/Fantasy nominations since 2011. A comprehensive list of her awards is found in the Science Fiction Awards Database at

The fan-nominated Hugo Awards are sponsored by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). Winners will be announced at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, CA, in August. For more information about the Hugo Award, visit

Scholarly Commons Speaker Series Features Dr. Edward Ayers

The Scholarly Commons Spring Speaker is Edward Ayers. His lecture, “Twenty-Five Years in Digital History and Counting,” will take place on Thursday, March 29, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. in Room 220 of the Main Library with a reception following.

Dr. Ayers, digital historian and President Emeritus of the University of Richmond, will be on campus for the Scholarly Commons Speaker Series. He has participated in large digital humanities projects like The Valley of the Shadow (, which brings to life the stories of two U.S. counties during the Civil War era, and is a cohost of BackStory, an American history podcast. For more information about Dr. Ayers, his website is Information about his talk is available at

John Wilkin Returns to Lead Library

John Wilkin

John Wilkin, who fulfilled the role of interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost since February 18, 2017, returned to his position as dean of libraries and university librarian on January 16, 2018. Andreas Cangellaris, formerly the dean of the College of Engineering at Illinois, was selected by Chancellor Robert Jones as the campus’s permanent vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost.

William Mischo, The Berthhold Family Professor in Information Access and Discovery, served as acting university librarian during Wilkin’s 11-month absence and has returned to his post at the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center as head librarian.

“I’m both proud and enthusiastic about returning to the Library, and owe a great debt of gratitude to Bill Mischo for his outstanding leadership over the last year,” said Wilkin. “Ours is one of the finest libraries in the world, and Bill’s intelligence, hard work, and trustworthy partnership made sure we kept on course and I could attend to University-wide issues in the provost’s office. I want to thank Bill for all he did to help us through this period and to say that I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my Library friends.”

14-millionth Volume Announced

Engine of Innovation

The Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has added the 14-millionth volume to its collections, The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation. The book, published by the University of Illinois Press, is one of several major projects commemorating the university’s sesquicentennial.

The University of Illinois: Engine of Innovation, illustrated with more than one hundred images, is a collection of essays by experts and students that explore the university’s celebrated accomplishments and historic legacy, including the Mosaic web browser, the discovery of Archaea, and pioneering triumphs in women’s education and wheelchair accessibility. Engine of Innovation’s author is Professor Emeritus of History, Law and American Indian Studies Frederick E. Hoxie.

“This acquisition is especially noteworthy given the role of Professor Hoxie’s book in the celebration of our university’s 150th anniversary,” said William Mischo, acting university librarian and dean of libraries.

“I am honored to have Engine of Innovation honored in this way,” said Hoxie. “The book is a gratifying affirmation of the university’s century and a half commitment to innovation for the public good.”

A display recognizing all of the Library’s millionth volumes, including Engine of Innovation, will be permanently housed on the first floor of the Main Library on the Urbana campus next year. The display is made possible through a generous gift to the Library in recognition of the 14-millionth volume from Library Friend Paul Lisnek, ’80 LAS, MA ’80 LAS, JD ’83 LAW, PHD ’86 LAS. Lisnek, of Chicago, Illinois, is a multi-Emmy, Cablefax, Telly, and Beacon Award-winning television host and analyst. He has been the political analyst for WGN-TV since 2008 and currently hosts Politics Tonight and the Behind the Curtain podcast.

“I have been blessed with much success in my career. I’ve never forgotten that my success is due to the years spent at the U of I, and the countless hours doing research, writing, and studying in the various libraries around campus. I wanted to find a way to say thank you and commemorate all that the Library and university have meant to me. This seemed a fitting and lasting tribute to honor the continued growth of one of the largest libraries in the nation,” said Lisnek. “My hope is that others will think of their own success and find their personal way to say thanks and give back to where it all started.”

The Library will celebrate its 14-millionth volume milestone with a special event in the fall of 2018 upon the display’s completion.

TRCCS Established at Illinois


On November 14, 2017, the International and Area Studies Library (IASL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted a ceremony to celebrate a new Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies (TRCCS) .

The TRCCS was established through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the University of Illinois and the National Central Library (NCL) of Taiwan. Illinois joins fellow Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member institutions, the University of Washington, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Toronto, in hosting a TRCCS. The TRCCS will serve as a platform to share both Taiwanese and Chinese studies with faculty, scholars, students, and the community surrounding the University of Illinois.

Through this partnership, the NCL donated academic books to the Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies. The TRCCS books are shelved within the IASL’s newly available public service space and new books area. In addition to the roughly 1,000 books annually, the NCL will provide access to its Center for Chinese Studies digital resources and support visiting scholars to share their research and promote scholarship and engagement focused on Chinese and East Asian studies.

Chinese Studies Librarian Shuyong Jiang, Ph.D. serves as the director of the TRCCS and coordinates the activities of the Center. The opportunity to host the TRCCS resulted directly from Jiang’s 2015 International Field Work project in Taiwan.

“TRCCS provides another platform to international library collaboration which will increase the potential for sustainability in supporting teaching and research on campus,” said Jiang.

Also on November 14, the International and Area Studies Library celebrated the opening of an exhibit, “ The Fascinating Culture of Books ,” which includes materials from the Rare Book Collection of the National Central Library and contemporary publications in Taiwan. The IASL exhibit runs through the end of December.

For more information, visit .

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Grainger Receives Sub-Award

Grainger Engineering Library

The Grainger Engineering Library Information Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a sub-award via North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) Immersive Scholar program to develop a suite of software modules which will support high-definition library visualization environments.

Illinois was one of five cohort institutions selected by NCSU Libraries as part of a “Visualizing Digital Scholarship in Libraries and Learning Spaces” grant. The large-scale visualization grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundations, awarded to NCSU in May, supports “the advancement of tools and techniques for developing and sharing large-scale visual content for research.” The cohort institutions will meet in December and pursue their own projects over the next three years. All of the grant projects are related to the challenges in creating, disseminating, validating, and preserving digital scholarship for large-scale visual environments.

Grainger Engineering Library’s portable and extensible software modules will be developed with campus user groups and digital scholarship centers, with the final suite of applications supporting digital scholarship applications, design learning projects, and data analysis applications.

“We are very pleased to accept the award and look forward to contributing to the important set of activities connected with the Visualizing Digital Scholarship grant awarded to our colleagues at NCSU,” said William Mischo, acting dean of libraries and university librarian at the University of Illinois. “We’re eager to work with the other institutions toward advancing the state-of-the-art of library involvement in immersive scholarship and knowledge creation.”

“We are delighted to have the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, through the Grainger Engineering Library, participate in the Immersive Scholar Mellon grant cohort,” said Greg Raschke, NCSU’s interim vice provost and director of libraries. “The national network of participating institutions signals the growing significance of large-scale visualization environments for creative forms of research and scholarship.  The immersive scholar grant is an important step in unlocking the potential of these emerging forms of digital scholarship by creating shared infrastructure, tools, and experience to increase their impact and reach.  Illinois’ innovative work in the past and bold plans for future immersive environments make them an ideal participant in the project.”

For more information, visit .

Do you have a story you’d like added to the Library News & Events? If so, please contact Heather Murphy ( ).