RBML Rocks at the Illini Fest in Chicago

Last Thursday, July 19th, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the University Library participated in the first ever Illini Fest in Chicago. The gathering lasted 3 hours and was a celebration of the University and its alumni. The event was a huge success: hundreds of people stopped by to participate and learn, and enjoy live music, notable Illini, and dozens of booths with fun and interactive activities.

We were able to snag a booth and set up a bounty of library giveaways. We brought bookmarks, brochures, paper dolls from the “Making Mr. Darcy” exhibit, coloring pages, and a recipe card reproduced from the Gwendolyn Brooks Collection. The highlight of our booth was the debut of our brand new button maker! Stacks of pre-printed images featuring items from our collections were used as the basis for the button design. Festival goers could choose from designs covering a variety of subjects – including Shakespeare’s First Folio, images of Mt. Vesuvius erupting, birds from Audubon’s Birds of America, and a fantastic image of Gwendolyn Brooks. At the end of the day, the most requested and the only image that completely ran out was…



The interactive element of selecting one’s own image and watching it morph into a button sparked curiosity and encouraged people to visit our table to ask questions.

The most frequent question was who can access RBML and how they can do so. We particularly enjoyed receiving this question because we are always excited for the opportunity to introduce new people to our collections. We are a very welcoming library: visitors to RBML do not need a professor to accompany them, do not need a letter of recommendation, and do not even need to be affiliated with the University. RBML is happy to provide access to any and all individuals with an interest in our collections.

We would also like to give a shout-out to Heather Murphy and Eva Miller for their fantastic work on the marketing material for RBML’s participation.

If you are interested, feel free to stop by the third floor in the Main Library and check out the current exhibit in our gallery: Writers & Their Tools: Parchment – Paper – Processor. The exhibit will be on display through the end of August


Ana Rodriguez and Ruthann Miller at the RBML table.


We weren’t the only ones hanging out at Illini Fest! Milton the Book Snake and Sir William Snakespeare played an integral role in preventing our papers from flying away.

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