Mission Statement

Research and Information Services is the University Library’s central hub for research assistance, leading patrons to the discovery of library resources and expert help. We provide assistance to researchers working in all disciplines, help people to locate difficult to find items, and make referrals to subject specialists when appropriate.

We support the educational mission of the university by approaching research support services from an instructional perspective, and by fostering user independence and the development of information literacy skills.

We serve our diverse patron population indirectly by being their advocate on library technology and service initiatives and by selecting resources that benefit a wide range of researchers.


The vision of the Research and Information Services is to be a central gateway to the Library’s information and research services and instruction in an academic research environment. The gateway will connect the knowledge that is crucial to developing research competencies through collaborative work with other scholarly support systems in the Library and on campus.

While other departmental libraries focus on the disciplinary position of researchers or the undergraduate student experience, RIS supports all groups in their work as scholars. Fully acknowledging the salience of unique disciplinary approaches, we recognize there are nevertheless common needs shared among all scholars. RIS is dedicated to increasing the research skills of faculty, staff and students, and educating the campus regarding the many ways in which the Library supports research and teaching, while also assuring that scholars are connected to their subject liaisons and disciplinary libraries.

We support researchers holistically, providing interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research support services through administration of the central in-person reference point and a ubiquitous virtual reference service; management of core online and print reference collections; teaching instruction and workshops focusing on the entire research lifecycle; professional development for reference staff; and the development of online tools and guides to support information discovery.

History of Reference Services at the Library

Reference services have existed at the University of Illinois Library since the first dedicated Library building (now Altgeld Hall) opened its doors in the fall of 1897.