The University Library was founded in 1867 in the charter establishing the school that became the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In fact, the library predated the University. On November 26, 1867 at a meeting of the Trustees of the then Illinois Industrial University, the first library purchases were approved. This was an initial $1000 investment in library materials meant to ensure that a core collection of indispensable books would be available to the faculty and students from the day they arrived on campus. The library opened in 1868 with 1,039 volumes. Originally the Main Library was located in what is now the Math Library, or Altgeld Hall.
In 1926, the library moved into its new building (the Main Library building in which you are now standing). Under the inspiration of Library Dean Phineas L. Windsor, the building was designed to accommodate constant growth, and influenced the architecture of academic libraries for decades.
The building’s architect, Charles A. Platt, designed the building in the Georgian style. Georgian buildings are known for symmetrical aesthetics, and a flattened façade. The building was meant to complement the other buildings on the quad and complete the campus’ grand mall aesthetic. The past couple of years the Library has undergone significant maintenance including new windows and re-facing the brick around the building.
If you have not already, feel free to walk through the Gallery to the glass doors facing East.