History of Technology

Automated Circulation System

Bregman, Alland and Robert Burger (2002). “Library Automation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1965-2000: A Case Study of Technological and Organizational Validity.” IEEE Annals, 24 (2): 71-85.

  • Phase 1 (1965–1978): The undergraduate library circulation system and initial use of the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center; which originally stood for Ohio College Library Center). This follows an experimental project during 1963–1968 involving serials control.
  • Phase 2 (1976–1984): The Library Computer System (LCS).
  • Phase 3 (1978–1998): The Library Computer System/Full Bibliographic Record (LCS/FBR) system as an integrated bipartite circulation system and online catalog.
  • Phase 4 (1996–2000): Planning and implementation of a Data Research Associates (DRA) system.
  • Corey, James. “The UPs and Downs of a Library Circulation System” in Problems and Failures in Library Automation. Vol. 15 : 35-49. Available here
    Preliminary planning began in 1965. 1970’s: The host computer was an IBM 270/168. As many as ten books could be charged to a patron in one transaction. Overdue notices were printed out and statistics were generated. Staff commented that paperwork decreased, and overdue notices were sent much faster. “It became operational and functioned at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for two and one-half years (from May 1976-December 1978). The system was stopped because it was replaced by a larger system that could perform known item searching by author, title and author/title, in addition to performing circulation functions. The University agreed to replace the Undergraduate Library system with the larger system as part of the negotiations for hiring a new director of the University Library.” For more see:

Technology 1990-2000

Adaptive Technology May 1998

An open house was held May 1 at the library to showcase the Alternative Reading Rooms and adaptive
technologies for use by people with disabilities. The space and technology were a joint effort between the Division of Rehabilitation Education Services and the library.

1999 Pay for Print and Laser Printing

Previous printing operation: Undergraduate Library Graphics Services

computer terminals in a line

October 2000 Photo by Bill Wiegand

Chat Reference Services

David Ward, Reference Librarian at the Undergraduate Library and Kathleen Kern, Reference Librarian at the Main Library, collaborated (in the 1990s) to create one of the first chat reference services in the country.  When there was a need for further improvements, in the late 90s the Library tried a commercial product, but realized that our librarians could create an improved version. David Ward and Jim Hahn (librarians at the UGL) later worked to create the  “iWonder chat service”, an open source product.

Log onto the Ask a Librarian Service http://www.library.illinois.edu/askus/ to see how to interact with a librarian via chat or text

Mobile Technology 2008 to 2018

Extensive developments were made with mobile applications to facilitate navigating the library.  See http://minrvaproject.org/index.php  for some of the tools developed, as well as some publication.

Loanable Technology

Around 2006-2008 the UGL began loaning out items students frequently requested, such as graphic calculators, usb devices, phone cables.  It then expanded items, and included gameboys and laptops.  These were mostly for in library use.  Digital recorders and flip cameras were also purchased and could be checked out of the library to assist students who needed to interview individuals for part of their coursework.

library laptops, flashdrives, and cameras

From 2009 to 2013 the UGL continued to increase the items available for checkout and to support multimedia use for classes.  When the Media Commons opened, there was an increased need for high end technology. From 2014-2018 (and continuing) the collection dramatically changed and became the only place on campus where students/faculty/staff could reserve items and check them out for free.  See http://www.library.illinois.edu/mc/lt/ for more information.

Book Scan Station Arrives Oct 2009

Donated by a previous alum of the university, Lori Mestre, Head of the Undergraduate Library accepted the first book scan station of an academic library.

library employees

Self Check-out Stations  Spring 2012

The UGL was the first library on campus to install self-check-out machines.  These two machines, on the lower level, allowed students to check out books and dvds before exiting the lower level (where the collections are housed), rather than taking them upstairs to the circulation desk.

self check out machines photo

Fall 2012 Digital Signage Installed at the UGL

Two digital signs at the front of the upper level of the UGL (in front of the courtyard) were installed and a sign on the south and one on the north side of that floor were installed.  These signs allowed for posting announcements and promotional content.

Fall 2013  Video Production Studio in the Media Commons is available for patrons with a valid icard

Reservations can be made by visiting Mediacommons.illinois.edu/zones/production.html and filling out the online form. The Video Production studio was designed to assist in a variety of situations:

  • One to three person interviews
  • A simple to use green screen setup
  • Micro lecture recording
  • Videos needing the use of a teleprompter
  • Course demonstrations of a professional video studio

Consultants in the Media Commons are available to assist in the planning and setup of the video shoot, as well as educating users about the process.

The studio is available weekdays from 9am – 5pm.

Fall 2014 Audio Studio Opens

The audio studio was acquired from the Beckman Institute when they no longer had need of it.  The pieces were craned into the lower courtyard and assembled.    The studio is especially designed for creating high quality interviews, podcasts, and low volume music recording.  Reservations can be made through the Media Commons website. http://www.library.illinois.edu/mc/studios/