Library and iSchool Diversity Committees Receive Grant

Open book with pages forming heart

The University Library’s Diversity Committee and the School of Information Sciences (iSchool) Diversity Committee are recipients of a Strategic Programs Initiative Funds grant to support programs on “Becoming a Trans Inclusive Library.”

The Strategic Programs Initiative Funds are offered by the University Library’s Executive Committee to support projects advancing one or more strategic directions from the Library’s Strategic Framework. This grant will support a series of brown bag discussions, film screenings, and visiting speakers to raise awareness and understanding of barriers faced by trans patrons seeking library services. Parallel surveys will also be conducted to identify service and professional development opportunities to help the Library better serve the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign trans community. Project leads are Spencer D. C. Keralis, Digital Humanities Librarian; Cindy Ingold, Gender Studies and Multicultural Services Librarian; and Kathryn La Barre, Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences.

“We’re looking forward to these programs and the conversations they generate in the Library, at the iSchool, and on our campus,” said Keralis. Keralis is a member of the University Library’s Diversity Committee which provides leadership and guidance to the Library by encouraging awareness about and discussions of diversity.

“I welcome this opportunity to continue fruitful collaborations between the iSchool and University Library Diversity Committees,” said La Barre, chair of the iSchool’s Diversity Committee. “The grant and programs it will sponsor over the next 18 months clearly demonstrate that trans individuals are important members of our community. We look forward to fostering knowledge about how to create welcoming and inclusive spaces in our libraries. The initiatives we hope to see as a result will enrich us all.”

The program will kick off with three discussion groups for University Library and iSchool faculty and staff this spring.

Knott Appointed as U of I Secretary

Photo of Gregory Knott

News release courtesy of the University of Illinois System:

Gregory Knott, an administrator for nearly two decades at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a graduate of two U of I System universities, has been appointed secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University, President Tim Killeen announced Friday.

Knott, who currently serves as assistant dean of university libraries in Urbana, will succeed Dedra “Dee Dee” Williams, who will retire June 1 after 30 years with the U of I System, the last four as secretary. He will begin his new duties Jan. 6 in a designate capacity, working with Williams to provide a smooth transition. The appointment will go to the board for formal approval at its Jan. 16 meeting in Chicago.

Along with deep ties to the U of I System that include graduate degrees from Urbana and the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS), Killeen said Knott also will bring invaluable experience from nearly a decade as a member of the Parkland College Board of Trustees.

“Greg has seen the U of I System as a student and from a leadership role, and knows the power our universities hold to transform lives and drive progress. Coupled with his hands-on experience in governing at Parkland, his unique perspective will serve the board and our universities well,” Killeen said.

As secretary, Knott will be a U of I System officer with wide-ranging responsibilities that include planning for board and board committee meetings; maintaining minutes, records and other board documents; responding to requests from the public; providing assistance and advice to other administrators, including the president; and assisting the trustees in their work for the system.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be chosen as the ninth secretary of the Board and University,” Knott said. “The opportunity to work with such an amazing board and university leadership is exciting in helping to shape the future of the entire university system.”

In his current position as assistant dean of university libraries, Knott has served since 2013 as chief financial officer and chief human resources officer for one of the largest public university libraries in the world.

Knott, 53, joined the university in 2002 as assistant head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, where he helped coordinate fiscal, human resources and facilities management.

From 2006 until moving to university libraries in 2013, he also held a dual appointment as associate director for budget and human resources at the Center for Advanced Bio-Energy Research in Urbana. Knott was part of the team that established the center, now known as the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory, which bridges the gap from basic discovery to commercialization of products.

Before joining the university, he worked as a team leader and counselor for the State Universities Retirement System of Illinois, the pension system for university employees, and as a planning and development analyst for the Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois, the state’s K-12 pension system.

Knott earned two degrees from the U of I System after receiving his bachelor’s in agribusiness from Illinois State University. He earned a master’s degree in library and information science from Urbana, where he also was a student worker on the grounds crew, and an MBA from UIS, where he was a graduate assistant in the Department of Computer Services.

Since 2011, he has been a member of the Board of Trustees at Parkland College, where he earned his associate’s degree, and currently serves as chairman. He will resign from the board when he assumes his new position in January. He also is a member of the Parkland Foundation Board of Directors and was a member of the Champaign County Board from 2000 to 2011.

Knott is also an Eagle Scout, a Scout leader and operates a small farm in St. Joseph.

In his role as the ninth secretary of the Board and University, Knott will be one of four officers of the Board of Trustees. He will jointly report to the board chair and president and have responsibilities to all board members, including coordinating agendas for all meetings of the board and its committees.

Williams will retire June 1 after three decades with the university system, which also included nearly 23 years in various leadership roles with Urbana’s regional medical school campus. She is also an Urbana graduate, with a master’s degree in higher education management.

South Asia Open Archives Launched: University Library a Founding Supporter


Logo for the SAOA

The South Asia Open Archives (SAOA), which creates and maintains a collection of open access materials for the study of South Asia, launched on October 18, 2019, at the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library is a founding supporter of SAOA. The Center for Global Studies at Illinois has also provided support for SAOA over the last few years.

The South Asia Open Archives is a rich and growing curated collection of key research materials from and about the region of South Asia, with historical and contemporary sources covering a variety of subjects in English and other South Asian languages. SAOA preserves, digitizes, and makes its content freely accessible to the world on the web. It is the product of a collaborative initiative of a broad consortium of research libraries in South Asia and around the world, including the University Library at Illinois, and their respective South Asian Studies librarians. It is enriched by substantial contributions of content—human and material resources from a community of libraries, research centers, archives, and other institutions partnering to bring these resources out for global scholarship and pedagogy.

According to Illinois’ South Asian Studies & Global Popular Culture Librarian Mara Thacker, “Seeing the launch of this product is gratifying both because it is the fruition of many years of work, and also because it provides critical access to primary source materials from South Asia that creates new possibilities for open access scholarship. SAOA’s successful launch speaks to the value of consulting librarian scholars with deep subject expertise in the creation of new resources. Finally, on a personal note I think it’s also a really powerful statement to see a grassroots, librarian-led initiative creating our own solutions to some of the problems posed by commercial publishers in recent years.”

The SAOA contains nearly 350,000 page images, with 13 languages represented. It is administratively hosted by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), and presented online for open access in partnership with JSTOR/Ithaka.

The South Asia Open Archives is located online at

The Center for Research Libraries is an international consortium of university, college, and independent research libraries based in Chicago, Illinois. Additional information is located at

Ithaka is a not-for-profit organization helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. For more information, visit

JSTOR, a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students, is part of Ithaka. More information is found at

Lynne M. Thomas Wins 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. Thomas is now an eight-time Hugo Award winner.

Hugo Award winners were announced at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland, on August 18, 2019. 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; Uncanny Magazine (Best Semiprozine) in 2016 and 2017; and Best Editor, Short Form and Uncanny Magazine (Best Semiprozine) in 2018. A comprehensive list of her awards is found in the Science Fiction Awards Database at


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant to Support Email Preservation Project

male student working on a computer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $45,000 grant to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to support a project that will define ways in which email can be archived in PDF format.

Specifically, the grant-supported project will develop pathways to transform email messages, folders, and accounts into archive-ready PDF packages. PDF is an ISO-standardized version of the Portable Document Format (PDF). PDF can be specialized for use in the archiving and long-term preservation of electronic documents.

Chris Prom, associate university librarian for digital strategies and a professor at Illinois, is the principal investigator of the grant. Prom co-chaired the Task Force on Technical Approaches for Email Archives from 2016 to 2018. The Task Force, sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Digital Preservation Coalition, was created to help the library and archives community better preserve electronic correspondence that is of value for future scholarship and research. Its report, The Future of Email Archives, laid the groundwork for this project.

“Archives are filled with handwritten letters and typed memos. They provide an insider view to life before the digital age,” said Prom. “With this grant, The Mellon Foundation is helping archivists to better preserve digital correspondence.”

Prom will work with 13 collaborators in working groups over 10 months to define the significant characteristics of email that need to persist in PDF format to meet the needs of the email archiving community.

“PDF is one of several viable options for email archiving,”said Prom. “For those institutions that might want to convert emails to PDF, they need to be appropriately contained in a way that maintains their archival fidelity. The project funded by this grant will begin building that framework, while not excluding other potential pathways for email preservation.”

Two Hugo Award Nominations for Lynne M. Thomas

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 is already a seven-time Hugo Award winner.

Hugo Award finalists were announced on April 2, 2019. Thomas is nominated with her husband Michael Damian Thomas for Best Professional Editor, Short Form and Best Semiprozine (a non-professional periodical publication) for Uncanny Magazine. Thomas is the co-editor-in-chief and co-publisher of Uncanny with Michael Damian Thomas.

Three short fiction finalists on the Hugo Award nomination ballot are from Uncanny Magazine. “The Thing About Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer is a finalist for Best Novelette; “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher is a finalist for Best Short Story; and “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander is a finalist for Best Short Story.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have our work at Uncanny Magazine recognized by the science fiction community,” said Thomas. “We are so proud of all the works that we’ve published this year, and it’s an honor to be on the ballot with our fellow finalists.”

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; Uncanny Magazine (Best Semiprozine) in 2016, 2017, and 2018; and Best Editor, Short Form in 2018. In addition to these seven wins, Thomas has garnered 16 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 in August at Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon, the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, in Ireland. For more information about the Hugo Award, visit

2019-2020 Research Travel Grants Available

Book with Library U of I Urbana-Champaign on pages

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library and the Department of History are pleased to announce a Research Travel Grant to support scholars conducting research in any of the Library’s collections.

The University Library is one of the largest research libraries in the U.S., holding more than 14 million volumes and 24 million other items and materials in all formats, languages, and subjects. Special collections include the papers of literary figures such as Marcel Proust, H.G. Wells, Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks, extensive collections relating to the history of science and technology, one of the best collections in the U.S. of Slavic and East European materials, and a unique collection of sub-Saharan African research materials. Travel grant recipients will also have access to the Library’s digital collections (including journal subscriptions and licensed databases) during their stay.

For more information about the Library’s collections, see:

Travel grants may be used toward round-trip airfare, and accommodations in Urbana-Champaign, IL for up to three weeks.

Eligibility: Scholars at the graduate and post-doctoral levels who wish to conduct research at the University of Illinois Library are invited to apply. Non-U.S. residents are eligible but should consult with us about possible visa issues before applying.

Obligations: Travel grant recipients must arrange with a local sponsor in a relevant academic department. Recipients of the award are encouraged to present their work publicly to the campus community at the University of Illinois and/or meet informally with faculty and students during their stay.

Travel grant recipients must reside continuously on campus or within a short driving distance during the award period (a minimum of 5 working days).

If a travel grant recipient publishes work resulting from the research visit, the Library will appreciate acknowledgment of the grant’s benefit as well as copies of the publication(s) for our collection.

Deadlines: Applications for 2019-2020 will be accepted until May 1, 2019.

Award period: Visits may be scheduled at any time during the year from June 1 of the year in which the award is made through May 31 of the following year.

Application: Please send the following application components (as email attachments) to

  • Project proposal (no more than three pages) which clearly highlights how the work at the UIUC Library is part of the scholar’s ongoing or future research
  • Updated CV
  • Letter of recommendation from a local scholar in a relevant academic department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Questions about the Research Travel Grant should be directed to

Sousa Archives Celebrates Black History Month with Renée Baker and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project Ensemble


The University Library’s Sousa Archives and Center for American Music will explore America’s evolving artistic dialogues of race and identity for this month’s Black History Month. The three days of special programming kicks off on February 24, 2019, with a special premier performance of Composer Renée Bakers’ new film score composed for the newly discovered 1930 silent movie, Borderline.

Borderline, Kenneth Macpherson’s visually-compelling movie about interracial and LGBT relationships during the 1920s, stars Paul and Eslanda Robeson. The film’s showing will be accompanied by a live performance of Renée Bakers’ thirty-member Chicago Modern Orchestra Project ensemble. Following the showing of the film there will be a discussion with Renée Baker and the audience about her work on the movie and her continuing interest in reviving historical silent movies with her new film scores.

In addition to the Borderline screening, there are two historic silent movie showings on February 24 and 25, lectures by Renée Baker on her work as a composer and conductor for the University’s cinema studies and music students on February 25 and 26, and children’s educational programming for Urbana’s King Elementary School students on February 26.

For more information about these educational and public engagement programs, please contact the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at (217) 333-4577 or Or, visit

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.