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 .

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

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 .

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Archives Acquires Ebert Materials

Ebert Files

An important part of the legacy of the noted film critic, Urbana native, and U of I alumnus Roger Ebert has come home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, thanks to a recent donation from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Archives has acquired the motion picture press kit files used by Ebert when he served as film critic for the newspaper. The files include 35mm slides and black and white glossy photographs, press release information promoting films from the 1980s through the early 2000s, as well as tear sheets of reviews by the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic.

Nine file drawers of color slides and approximately 57 file drawers of press kits for more than 5,200 films spanning a substantial portion of Ebert’s time as the Sun-Times film critic now reside at Illinois awaiting arrangement and description to make them accessible to students, scholars, and the public. The University Archives and the Communications Library at Illinois have already starting working together to create a complete index of all of the thousands of reviews Ebert wrote.

“This is an important story for the university to have,” said University Archivist William Maher. “What Roger learned here, how he honed his craft, got critical experience and gained confidence–all  of that carried him forward. It propelled him. The university gave him that platform, at the same time that he changed the university himself.”

Other universities had approached the Sun-Times for the materials, however Chaz Ebert, Ebert’s widow and publisher of, wanted to see the materials go to the University of Illinois, Ebert’s alma mater.

“Chaz’s efforts to connect us with the Sun-Times have been an invaluable step forward to bring the Roger Ebert archival legacy home,” noted Maher.

There is little doubt that Ebert would be pleased with the decision. In Life Itself , Ebert’s 2011 memoir, he said, “I loved the University. It took me from childhood to my life.”

It was this influence and spirit that inspired an online exhibit all about Roger Ebert and his time at Illinois which made its debut at the 2017 Roger Ebert Film Festival this past April. The exhibit, created by the University Archives and containing examples of Ebert’s early writings as a student as well as his original correspondence with his faculty mentor, Dan Curley, is viewable at

Ultimately, the Sun-Times materials will reside within close proximity to the Roger Ebert Center being established within the College of Media at Illinois. The Ebert Center will offer undergraduate scholarships and mentoring, along with other programs to “inspire critical thinking and illuminate the human condition,” to those interested in filmmaking and film criticism.

“The College of Media is proud to have played a role in acquiring these materials for the University of Illinois,” said Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, interim dean of the College of Media. “Roger loved this place; he established his film festival and the Ebert Center here, visited often and introduced us to Chaz, who has become a valued member of our media family. Roger’s enduring legacy is safe in her hands and with the University of Illinois Archives.”

For more information about the Ebert Center, visit .

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

Honoring Major Kenneth D. Bailey

Medal of Honor and Bailey

The University Library will host a special ceremony honoring Major Kenneth D. Bailey (1910-1942), the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who was a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

The “Honoring Major Kenneth Bailey: Medal of Honor Recipient” ceremony will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017, in the Marshall Gallery of the Main Library on the Illinois campus. The ceremony’s keynote speaker is Captain Anthony Corapi, Commanding Officer of the University of Illinois NROTC.

“It is very humbling to me to be able to recognize a true American hero,” said Captain Corapi.

Major Bailey was a native of Danville, Illinois, a graduate of the University of Illinois (class of 1935), and a major in the U.S. Marine Corps. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society citation for Major Bailey reads, in part: “For extraordinary courage and heroic conduct above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company C, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, during the enemy Japanese attack on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 12-13 September 1942.”

The October 27 ceremony complements a month-long exhibit in the Main Library’s Marshall Gallery which includes Major Bailey’s Medal of Honor on loan from the Vermilion County War Museum.

Exhibit and ceremony sponsors include the Vermilion County War Museum , the University of Illinois Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) , the Student Life and Culture Archives , the University Archives , and the University Library .

For more information about the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and to read the full citation for Major Bailey, please visit .

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Madhubuti and TWP Archives Acquired

Exterior Sign Library

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois has acquired the papers of Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti , one of the most provocative poets of his generation, and the Third World Press (TWP)/Third World Press Foundation , the oldest independent Black-owned publisher in the United States. The archive includes important documentation of Madhubuti’s original work as a writer, educator, and intellectual leader, and it provides an essential and unique record of the inner workings of TWP.

Manuscripts preserved in the archive, which spans approximately 500 linear feet of library shelving or 300 boxes, include Madhubuti’s own work, and that of other leading TWP poets and writers, such as Amiri Baraka, Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, Sonia Sanchez, Derrick Bell, and Illinois Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks. The extensive literary manuscripts and archives of Brooks, the first African American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize, became part of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois in 2013.

“Dr. Madhubuti was an early protégé of Gwendolyn Brooks and played a key role in establishing TWP in Chicago during the height of the 1960s Black Arts Movement,” said Tom Teper, associate dean for collections and technical services at Illinois. “We are ecstatic that we could add this important archive to our collections and that it will reside alongside the Brooks papers.”

The archive is a rich primary resource for studying the direct impact of TWP and one of the most important times in African-American literature, the growth of a singular Black enterprise, and its broad networks and communities of readers, writers, thinkers, and educators.

TWP, which was founded by Madhubuti with a $400 honorarium and a used mimeograph machine in the basement of his apartment, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In addition to publishing, other initiatives of the press have included projects aimed at developing literacy, encouraging writers and poets, and programs and events promoting understanding and education about African American culture and history.

“We are so pleased to have been selected as a home for these materials that document the growth of the Black Arts Movement and Dr. Madhubuti’s work,” said Lynne M. Thomas, head of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. “This collection not only provides important additional context for Brooks’s later career, it documents the numerous Black artists, writers, and creators that came after her through the work of the oldest Black-owned publishing company in the United States.”

The acquisition of the archives was made possible with the financial support of Library Friends through various gift and endowment funds.

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

Lynne Thomas to Lead RBML

Lynne Thomas
Photo courtesy of NIU Media Services

Lynne M. Thomas has been named head of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She assumes the Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Rare Book & Manuscript Library Professorship, a tribute to Library Friends Robert and Juanita Simpson, who generously supported the University Library for more than 20 years.

Thomas, who will begin her new appointment September 1, is a four-time Hugo Award winner, and has served as curator of rare books and special collections at Northern Illinois University since 2004, and as head of distinctive collections there since 2014.

“After an extended search, we are thrilled to welcome not only a well-respected leader from the special collections community, but one of its own. As a graduate from the University of Illinois, Lynne represents the best of what Illinois produces—a scholar, a dedicated contributor to her professional community, and a collaborative leader,” said Thomas Teper, associate dean for collections and technical services.

Thomas will be developing and leading projects involving rare books and special collections collaboratively within the campus community and beyond. She will work toward making the collections known, accessible, and used through print, exhibition, and digital means, and engage in and promote scholarship on materials in the collections. Her responsibilities will include establishing a continuing mission and strategic direction for a preeminent rare book and manuscript program and leading rich instructional and public outreach efforts.

“It is a delight and an honor to be returning to the University of Illinois as the head of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Just about twenty years ago, I began my first day there as a graduate assistant,” said Thomas. “These collections, and the people who care for them, shaped the librarian I have become today. I’m thrilled to be coming back to my alma mater to continue the tradition of excellent stewardship of this library’s renowned collections.”

Thomas is the co-editor-in-chief and publisher of Uncanny Magazine with her husband Michael Damian Thomas. The former editor-in-chief of Apex Magazine (2011-2013), she co-edited the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords , as well as Whedonistas and Chicks Dig Comics . She moderated the Hugo-Award winning SF Squeecast and contributes to the Verity! Podcast . At Northern Illinois University, Thomas was responsible for popular culture special collections, including the literary papers of more than 75 science fiction and fantasy authors, and the official archives of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She co-authored Special Collections 2.0 (2009), and co-edited New Directions for Special Collections (2016), both with Beth Whittaker of the University of Kansas, and is a founding member of the Digital POWRR project.

In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and French Literature from Smith College, Thomas earned a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Arts in English and American Literature from Northern Illinois University.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois is one of the largest repositories for rare books and manuscripts in the United States. The collections—nearly half a million volumes and three kilometers of manuscript material—are strong in the broad areas of literature, history, art, theology, philosophy, technology, and the natural sciences.

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