Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John P. Wilkin wins 2019 Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award

John Wilkin
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

News release courtesy of the American Library Association:

Chicago—John Price Wilkin, Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named the 2019 winner of the Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award. Wilkin will receive a cash award and citation during an ALCTS event at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Named in honor of one of the pioneers of library automation, the Atkinson Award recognizes an academic librarian who has made significant contributions in the area of library automation or management and has made notable improvements in library services or research.

“John Price Wilkin exemplifies the spirit of the Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award through leadership, risk taking, and innovation,” said Bruce Johnson, Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award Committee chair and former senior library information systems specialist at the Library of Congress. “John was an early adopter of structured markup languages such as SGML and XML in his work at the University of Michigan as head of the Humanities Text Initiative and head of digital library production service, providing access to digital texts as well as a means for searchability and textual analysis. This work later inspired online publishing efforts at other institutions, including the California Digital Library.”

“John led the Mellon-funded Making of America project, and early groundbreaking effort to digitize 19th-century books, and then built upon this experience to help launch JSTOR,” continued Johnson. “He managed the partnership with Google to digitize the University of Michigan’s collection, eventually leading to the foundation of the HathiTrust. As executive director of the HathiTrust, John established a model for shared governance and large-scale collaboration that secured sharing provisions for member libraries.”

“In his current role as university librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, John continues to lead innovation efforts, particularly in the area of research data curation,” noted Johnson. “All of these achievements have had far-reaching impact in the library profession and beyond, providing a foundation for transformation in publishing, research, and unprecedented access to digital content.”

Wilkin received his B.A. in Literature and English from Antioch College, his M.A. in English from the University of Virginia, and his M.L.S. from the University of Tennessee.

The Hugh C. Atkinson Award is jointly sponsored by four divisions of the American Library Association: the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA). The award is funded from an endowment established to honor Hugh C. Atkinson.

For more information regarding the Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award, or a complete list of past recipients, please visit the awards section of the ACRL website.

University Library Hosts Library Research Showcase Feb 5

Library Research Showcase

The University Library invites the campus community to the Library Research Showcase in Room 220 of the Main Library from 1-4 p.m. on Feb 5. The showcase will highlight recently completed and ongoing research within the library, emphasizing its impact on the university, the professional disciplines of our many researchers and beyond.

Trial Access to 100+ Electronic Resources

ProQuest Website

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library has secured three years of trial access to every primary source product sold by ProQuest, an information-content and technology company which provides applications and products for libraries. ProQuest is piloting the program with a number of different universities.

The ProQuest “Access and Build Program” includes access through August 31, 2021, to 115 electronic resources (see below) that touch on the humanities, music and the arts, the social sciences, and some scientific disciplines. There are newspapers, government documents, digitized books and journals, scanned microform sets, streaming videos, and recorded sound collections.

A ProQuest website highlights everything that is available through the duration of the Access & Build Program. Users can search for digital journals, newspapers, and databases at Resources in the Program are labeled as a trial.

“While the resources secured through the licensing arrangement are not permanent acquisitions, the Library is excited to be able to make them available to the faculty, staff, and students at Illinois for a substantial amount of time,” said Tom Teper, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services. “In addition, this program banks our spending, creating a deposit account and enabling our purchasing decisions to be informed by data gathered about the collections’ use.”

ProQuest Titles Available through Trial Access:
British Periodicals Collection IV
British Periodicals III
Education Magazine Archive
Historical Newspapers: American Hebrew & Jewish Messenger
Historical Newspapers: Austin American Statesman
Historical Newspapers: Communist Newspaper Collection
Historical Newspapers: Jerusalem Post
Historical Newspapers: Jewish Exponent
Historical Newspapers: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Historical Newspapers: Philadelphia Inquirer
Historical Newspapers: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Historical Newspapers: South China Morning Post
Historical Newspapers: St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay Times
Historical Newspapers: The American Israelite
Historical Newspapers: The Globe and Mail
Historical Newspapers: The Korea Times
Historical Newspapers: The Scotsman
Historical Newspapers: Toronto Star
News Policy and Politics Magazine Archive
Religious Magazine Archive
The Vogue Italia Archive
Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War
Womens Magazine Archive Collection 2
Womens Wear Daily Archive
Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection Part B 1998-2001
Congressional Record Permanent Digital Part D – 2006-2009
Digital U.S. Bills and Resolutions 1789-2013
Executive Branch Documents, Part 3 1940-1942
Executive Branch Documents, Part 4 1943-1945
Executive Branch Documents, Part 5 1946-1948
Historical Statistical Abstracts of the U.S.: 1878-1928 (3)
Indian Claims Insight
Public Petitions to Parliament, 1833-1918-
House of Lords Parliamentary Papers 1800-1910
History Vault: American Indians and American West
History Vault: American Politics and Society from JFK to Watergate, 1960 -1975
History Vault: American Politics in the Early Cold War – Truman and Eisenhower Administrations, 1945-1961,
History Vault: Confederate Military Manuscripts
History Vault: Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files – Africa and Middle East
History Vault: Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files – Asia
History Vault: Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files – Europe and Latin America
History Vault: FBI Confidential Files and Radical Politics in the U.S. , 1945-1972
History Vault: Immigration: Records of the INS, 1880-1930
History Vault: Labor Unions in the U.S., 1862-1974: Knights of Labor, AFL, CIO, and AFL-CIO,
History Vault: Law and Society since the Civil War
History Vault: Margaret Sanger Papers
History Vault: New Deal and WWII
History Vault: Office of Strategic Services State Department Intelligence and Research Reports
History Vault: Progressive Era: Robert M. La Follette Papers
History Vault: Reconstruction and Military Government after the Civil War
History Vault: Records of the Children’s Bureau, 1912-1969
History Vault: Slavery and the Law
History Vault: Southern Life and African American History, Plantations Records Part 2
History Vault: Struggle for Women’s Rights, 1880-1990: Organizational Records
History Vault: Students for a Democratic Society, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement,
History Vault: U.S. Diplomatic Post Records, 1914-1945
History Vault: Vietnam War and American Foreign Policy
History Vault: Workers, Labor Unions, and the American Left in the 20th Century
History Vault: World War I: British Foreign Office Political Correspondence
History Vault: World War I: Records of the American Expeditionary Forces, and Diplomacy in the World War I Era,
History Vault: World War II: U.S. Documents on Planning, Operations, Intelligence, Axis War Crimes and Refugees
African American Biographical Database
Black Studies Center Dissertations Module
C19: The Nineteenth Century Index
Early European Books Collection 1
Early European Books Collection 11
Early European Books Collection 12
Early European Books Collection 3
Early European Books Collection 4
Early European Books Collection 5
Early European Books Collection 6
Early European Books Collection 7
Early European Books Collection 8
Early European Books Collections 10
Early European Books Collections 9
American Civil War Research Database, The
American Civil War: Letters and Diaries, The
American Newsreels in Video
Audio Drama: The L.A. Theatre Works Collection
Black Drama Third Edition
Contemporary World Drama
Dance Online: Dance Studies Collection
Digital Karl Barth Library, The
Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts, The
Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation, The
Early Experiences in Australasia: Volume I
Film Scripts Online Series: American Film Scripts Online, Volume I
Film Scripts Online Series: Film Scripts Online, Volume II
Food Studies Online
Gilded Age, The
Human Rights Studies Online
Illustrated Civil War Newspapers and Magazines
Images of America: A History of American Life in Images and Texts (whole country)
Music Online: Classical Scores Library: Volume I
Music Online: Classical Scores Library: Volume II
Music Online: Classical Scores Library: Volume III
Music Online: Classical Scores Library: Volume IV
Music Online: Reference: Music Periodicals in the 19th Century
North American Indian Drama, 2nd Edition
North American Indian Thought and Culture
North American Women’s Drama, 2nd Edtion
Performance Design Archive Online
Psychological Experiments Online
Revolution and Protest Online
Social Theory, 2nd Edition
Social Work Online
Twentieth Century Advice Literature: North American Guides on Race, Gender, Sex, and the Family
Twentieth Century North American Drama, 2nd Edition
Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Volume I, Christianity
Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Volume II, Islam
Twentieth Century Religious Thought: Volume III, Judaism
BBC Landmark Video Collection

University Library Announces Plans for a Library of the Future: Main Library Renovations Proposed

Aerial View of Main Library
The highlighted area in this aerial view of the Main Library represents the space envisioned for a new research hub.

The University Library has announced plans to re-design the Main Library. The proposal involves the re-envisioning of Library spaces, including the creation of a new research hub focused on a substantial library collection with lecture rooms, collaboration space, and services to enrich the learning experience of students, along with a dedicated home for the Library’s special collections.

Renovating the Main Library Building has been on the University’s list of capital projects for the last decade. The oldest portion of the Main Library stacks, currently an inadequate environment for storing printed books and journals, will be replaced with an interdisciplinary research collaboration space that will leverage onsite browsable library collections focused on the humanities, the arts, and the social and behavioral sciences. This new space will also house many of the services and activities found in the Undergraduate Library, and envisions a unification and enhancement of services for all students currently located across the two facilities. The Undergraduate Library building will then become a unified destination for many of the Library’s special collections, now housed in various venues around campus.

“Now is the time to move forward with a new model of the research library,” said John P. Wilkin, dean of libraries and university librarian. “Our outstanding collections have been a boon to research and Illinois, and with this plan, we can better support interdisciplinary research in the humanities and social sciences.”

The proposal will be developed further over the next year through discussions with campus and community stakeholders resulting in a conceptual plan for the space. A recent feasibility study estimates the Main Library renovation costs will come in under the $54 million state capital request. Several private gifts have already been secured in support of the project. The Library expects a completion date of 2024.

More information will be shared via a dedicated project website at

The Investiture of Timothy W. Cole

From left to right: Library Friend Allen Avner, Professor Tim Cole, and University Librarian John Wilkin

On September 7, 2018, Timothy W. Cole, head of the Mathematics Library, was invested as the Allen and Elaine Avner Professor in Interdisciplinary Research. The investiture took place in the IDEA Lab within the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center (GELIC). Remarks were given by Library Friend Allen Avner; Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Kevin Pitts; Head of the GELIC and Berthold Family Professor in Information Access and Discovery William Mischo; Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Wilkin; and Professor Tim Cole.

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. Read more…

Lynne M. Thomas Wins Two Hugo Awards

Lynne M. Thomas, head of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, has won two Hugo Awards—science fiction’s most prestigious award. Thomas, now a seven-time Hugo Award winner, joined the University Library in July 2017.

Hugo Award winners were announced at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, CA, on August 19, 2018. Thomas won for Best Editor, Short Form and 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.

Thomas was in attendance at the 2018 Hugo Awards. Upon receiving email congratulations from her library colleagues back at the University of Illinois, she replied, “Thank you, everyone. I don’t even know what to say at this point. But please accept my deepest gratitude.”

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. 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). For more information about the Hugo Award, visit

Library Supports BTAA’s Opposition to Moving Wall Policy

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, supports the BTAA’s opposition to a Moving Wall Policy implemented by publisher Taylor & Francis. This policy limits content before a specified date (once provided at a courtesy) to subscribers with a supplementary subscription. A letter on behalf of the BTAA membership to Taylor & Francis currently has ten consortial signatories, representing well over 100 institutions.

University Library users experiencing problems accessing content, should report such difficulties to Users may secure materials via Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery. Please visit

To read the open letter from BTAA to Taylor & Francis, visit Contact Associate Dean for Collections and Technical Services Tom Teper ( with any questions regarding access via the University Library.

Sir Isaac Newton Manuscript Acquired

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

News release courtesy of the Illinois News Bureau:

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois has acquired a manuscript written by Sir Isaac Newton that provides instructions for making the philosopher’s stone, a substance thought to have special powers of transformation.

The “Opus Galli Anonymi” is Newton’s Latin translation of a French work on making the philosopher’s stone, with corrections and notes by Newton based on his own scientific work. The library bought the manuscript at auction for $275,000, thanks to a donation by Jim and Lionelle Elsesser of St. Louis, who are Illinois alumni and supporters of the University Library.

One of the strongest areas in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s collection is the history of science, said Lynne M. Thomas, the head of the library.

“We have a lot of materials on early scientific work,” she said. “We are at our heart an agriculture and engineering school. Our collections of early books dealing with agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, science and engineering are quite strong. It’s been an area of interest and expertise for our faculty for more than a century.”

The history of science, natural history and mathematics collection holds more than 7,000 volumes and the mathematics collection is ranked as one of the three most significant in the U.S. Among the documents in the collection are a nearly comprehensive collection of early works by the Greek mathematician Euclid and Newton’s “Principia Mathematica.”

The newly acquired Newton manuscript “provides additional context for scientific exploration in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the fact that it was not considered unusual for a scientist of Newton’s perspective to explore alchemy side by side with the physical and mathematical work he was doing,” Thomas said. “It is interesting seeing science and legend side by side.”

The philosopher’s stone was thought to be a substance that would turn base metals into precious ones, such as lead into gold, and also cure illness and grant immortality.

“This is evidence of (Newton) going down a scientific cul-de-sac that didn’t produce the intended aim but that led to information on how scientific failures lead to new discoveries,” Thomas said

Lionelle Elsesser said she is “excited about the sense of history, uniqueness and rarity of the material. I hope it does play an important part in someone’s scholarship. We couldn’t be more delighted with the acquisition.”

Jim Elsesser said the acquisition is appropriate as Newton was known as the father of chemistry and Illinois has a strong chemistry department.

“You can’t help but be moved. To see a document like this, written by Newton, you have to be impressed,” he said.

The couple said the University Library was an important factor in their education and careers. Jim Elsesser received degrees in business at the U. of I., and Lionelle Elsesser received hers in library and information sciences.

“The Library is one of the jewels in the crown for the university,” said Lionelle Elsesser. “When you are in school, you kind of take it for granted. It’s when you leave – for us, anyway – you realize, ‘Wow, that was some library.’ It’s really magnificent.”

The Elsessers made a $500,000 donation to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library to be used for materials for special collections. The library has not yet determined what to acquire with the remaining amount of the donation. Thomas said the Elsesser’s donation allowed the RBML to consider items that are not usually within its price range to acquire.

“It’s fantastic to have the freedom to leap on this wonderful thing and get it for the collection,” Thomas said. “It’s both wonderful and daunting simultaneously, because you want to do right by the donors and make sure they’re happy with the choice we’ve made, and you want to get something that’s a good, strong addition to the collection and makes sense in the context of what we do.”

The manuscript is made up of four sheets of paper folded in the middle to make eight leaves. It must be translated into English, it needs some conservation work and it must be fully catalogued and integrated into the collection, Thomas said. The most important consideration is how to house the fragile document so that it is stable and wear and tear on it will be minimized, she said.

“Because we know lots and lots of people will want to see this, we’re going to work with the conservation department here at the University Library to make sure we’re housing it in a way that will maintain its physical integrity as well as make sure it’s publicly available to as many people as possible,” Thomas said.

It won’t be on display but will be housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library collection and will be available to view upon request. Access to it will be somewhat restricted, as is the case with items that are quite fragile and valuable, Thomas said.

The manuscript will eventually be digitized so scholars can access it online. However, many will still want to see it in person. There are physical attributes that can’t be conveyed well digitally, Thomas said, such as the quality and thickness of the paper, an indication of how expensive it was to produce; the type of ink used; and the color.

“You can’t feel a digitized object. You can’t smell a digitized object. The tactile experience of handling something that was handled by Sir Isaac Newton is something you can’t replicate with a digitized copy,” she said.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library will host a public event in the summer or fall to unveil the manuscript.

“This was a wonderfully serendipitous thing, where an item of great relevance to scientists and also a point of interest to the general public becomes available. It also has a lot to tell us about how scholarship worked and about creating science at a level of technology radically different than ours,” Thomas said.

“We are deeply grateful to the Elsessers for their gift,” she said. “They made it possible for us to return an important scientific document to the public domain. They have benefited the public through their generosity.”

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.