Bringing South Asian cultures to the world

Grants support UChicago Library’s digitization projects

Major grants from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the British Library are enabling the University of Chicago Library to expand and enrich digital resources for South Asian studies. UChicago faculty and students benefit from these projects, as do researchers around the world, through our freely available online presentation of books and images. In two instances the projects are partnerships to digitize materials located elsewhere, to make these unique resources available to UChicago researchers and others.

Historic postcards of colonial India

Cotton Cleaning Postcard

Image of cotton cleaning in Bombay from the private postcard collection of Graham Shaw.

The University of Chicago Library has digitized nearly 12,000 historical postcards of colonial India from one of the largest collections in existence. A grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 and 2010 helped to support our project to present the private collection of Mr. Graham Shaw in London. These postcards cover undivided India as well as Nepal and Sri Lanka. Most date from the 1880s to the 1930s. They depict topographical features as well as the people and their culture—from occupations and faiths to modes of transport and humor. The collection’s significance derives from its extensive visual documentation, the varied perspectives it provides for sites over time, the postage stamps, and the correspondence on the back of many cards. A search engine being launched this fall at will allow users to search by location and keyword or to browse through the cards by category.

Monolingual and etymological dictionaries

With the support of a two-year, $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that began in July, the University of Chicago Library will be converting and disseminating 12 monolingual and etymological dictionaries from our own collections as electronic resources, extending the coverage of our Digital Dictionaries of South Asia (DDSA, at and significantly supporting humanities research and advanced language learning. Additionally, the 54 dictionaries currently available from DDSA will be enhanced through improved facilities for searching and displaying data on desktop and mobile devices.

The DDSA is already heavily accessed by scholars and lay users, who currently execute 4 million searches per year. This project enhances the value of the website by extending monolingual lexical coverage in eight critical languages: Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Panjabi, Prakrit, Sindhi, Sinhala, and Telugu.

Early Kannada books

“Preservation and Access for Rare Early Kannada Books” is the most recent digitization project. The British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme has granted £44,950 (approximately $75,700) to save more than 1,650 of the most important early printed publications in the Kannada language, which are held by several public and private collections in south India. This grant also covers a two year period that began in July.

Kannada is an important Dravidian language spoken in south India since the early modern period. The broad spectrum of writings in these publications are invaluable for historians of social, cultural, literary, and intellectual change in this region in the 19th and 20th centuries. Digital page images will be presented via our Digital South Asia Library ( and the British Library.


elephant battery

Image of an elephant battery from the private postcard collection of Graham Shaw.

The University of Chicago Library’s South Asia collection is widely regarded as the strongest North American university collection about the Indian subcontinent. These digital initiatives expand the resources we are able to offer through international collaborations that open access to rare and unique scholarly resources.

The Library and the University of Chicago Campaign

This fall, the University of Chicago is entering the public phase of The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact, which has a goal of raising $4.5 billion. The priorities of the campaign, the most ambitious in the University’s history, include support for faculty and researchers who are shaping fields of inquiry, distinctive educational opportunities for students at all levels, and innovative programs to enhance the University’s local and global reach and impact.

The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry & ImpactThe Library serves as a vital center of inquiry and impact at the University of Chicago, fueling groundbreaking research and a transformative educational experience, while acting as a mecca for scholars from around the world. We are proud to support inquiry and impact across all the disciplines of the University, and we embrace the opportunity to participate in the University’s campaign. Toward that end, we seek to raise $26.5 million in essential funds in four categories that will enable us to build on our strengths and continue our work as a world-class and world-renowned research library.

Distinctive collections: Special Collections and global resources

Among the Library’s most distinctive holdings are its Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archives, as well as world-renowned area studies collections focused on East Asia, Southern Asia, the Middle East, and Slavic and Eastern Europe. Funds are needed to preserve and expand these invaluable collections for future researchers and students. A $2 million Special Collections Opportunity Endowment will enable the purchase of unique items and rare collections that are available for a limited time in a highly competitive marketplace. A $2.5 million Global Resources Collections Opportunity Endowment will allow the Library to seize special opportunities in areas of the world where different acquisition patterns require flexibility. And a $5 million Digital Program Endowment will support the digitization of collections to enable new types of research on campus and around the world.

Expanding areas

The Library strives to anticipate the new needs of faculty and students. As the University establishes and expands its programs in areas such as molecular engineering and the sciences, Jewish studies, and Latin America, the Library seeks to establish expendable and endowed funds to build collections and provide services that support emerging directions in the University’s research agenda. A $2 million Science Collections Fund will bolster the John Crerar Library’s resources, including online literature, databases for discovery, and tools to aid in the discovery, management, visualization, and analysis of information arising from research activities, such as ChemDraw, which allows researchers to draw chemical substances. A $1.5 million Jewish Studies Endowment will expand and enhance the Library’s current Jewish Studies collection to serve the growing needs on campus in this area.

New Library services

The electronic age has created an increasingly complex landscape for everyone from College students to advanced researchers. New teaching techniques and assignments create the need for new study environments. Graduate students, faculty, and visiting researchers have highly specialized research needs that often require in-depth consultation with librarians. A $2 million Instruction and Research Support Program Endowment will enable the Library to teach users how to optimize their use of both emerging and established scholarly resources. A $1 million Study Spaces Fund will support the creation of flexible spaces that are suitable for collaboration and outfitted with the latest technologies.

Strategic opportunities

In order to embrace the promise and the challenges of the future, the Library must be able to respond to opportunities as they arise. New research needs will continue to emerge, and user demand for rapid and innovative access to physical and virtual materials will continue to grow. A $2 million Strategic Opportunities Fund will allow the Library to sustain its strengths and maintain its forward momentum. This fund will provide long-term support to test new ideas through pilot projects, to use technologies of the future; to hire experts for emerging initiatives; and to purchase products and services developed by commercial vendors. A $3 million Strategic Opportunities Collections Endowment will provide the Library flexibility to obtain highly desirable, unique collections across the disciplines when they come onto the market. The fund will also support the University of Chicago Library’s fruitful partnerships with peer institutions in order to increase collection coverage, discoverability, and access.


For specific information on these and other campaign giving opportunities and to learn more about the Library’s role in The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact, please contact Yasmin Omer, Director of Development for the Library at 773-834-3744 or at

Enabling worldwide discovery of rare books: A gift from Roger and Julie Baskes

Enhancing online catalog records for rare books is a high priority for the University of Chicago Library in the University’s capital campaign. Detailed cataloging is an essential tool for researchers to discover handwritten annotations, special bindings or illustrations, and other features of individual copies of rare books. The Library has long recognized the scholarly value of this work, but without additional funding the project could take as long as 20 years to complete.

Julie and Roger Baskes

Julie and Roger Baskes

Prominent Chicago cultural philanthropists Roger and Julie Baskes stepped forward this spring as the right donors for this endeavor. In his seven years on the Library’s Visiting Committee, Mr. Baskes said, he was impressed by “the Library’s extraordinary commitment to keeping its collections physically and instantly accessible, at the very center of the campus” through the construction of the Mansueto Library. An avid and knowledgeable book collector, Mr. Baskes has also nurtured a long affiliation with Chicago’s Newberry Library, serving as a trustee and previously as chairman of the board. Over the last 30 years, he has cultivated a one-of-a-kind personal collection of rare and historical books with maps.

In doing so, Mr. Baskes explained, “I became aware of the extraordinary collections of rare books at the world’s great research libraries, especially as the catalogs of these libraries began to be accessible online, and discovered that the University of Chicago Library is one of the world’s most important repositories of rare books. Julie and I also understand that however rare, beautiful, or extensive such materials may be, their value to scholars is entirely dependent upon their accessibility.”

Baskes Bookplate

The electronic bookplate for gifts from the Roger Baskes Collection.

With that in mind, Mr. and Mrs. Baskes made a $250,000 commitment to support the cataloging project. “Twenty-first century readers and students of rare books and manuscripts, whether part of the University of Chicago community or from other parts of the world, will come to the Library after they have learned from its online catalog that there exist materials important to their research,” Mr. Baskes said. “We believe that little would add to the value of the Library’s remarkable Special Collections more than the enhancement and editing of its catalog, and we are honored to support it.”

Along with their monetary support, Mr. and Mrs. Baskes are also donating rare and historical books with maps that they have collected. So far the Library has received approximately 100 titles ranging from the 18th century to the late 20th. In addition to American, English, and French books with maps, the gifts include books in Japanese, Armenian, and Ottoman Turkish. When they are cataloged, the associated online records will bear a custom electronic bookplate (pictured) and will be readily retrievable by searching the catalog for the donor name.

“We have long understood the importance of improving access to our rare book collections by providing more detailed and accurate catalog records,” said Alice Schreyer, Interim Library Director and Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections. “Roger and Julie’s gift will make the unique features of our collections known to a wide range of scholars who would otherwise not discover them.”

In recognition of their gift, a group study space in the Special Collections Research Center will be named the “Julie and Roger Baskes Group Study.” Students, faculty, and visiting scholars use this room to work collaboratively with rare and historical materials.

2014-15 Library Society Speaker Series

Rosanna Warren

Rosanna Warren

Save the date for these Library Society lectures:

  • Wednesday, November 12, 2014
    Neil Harris, Preston and Sterling Morton Professor of History and Art History Emeritus, The University of Chicago, and Dr. Teri Edelstein
  • Wednesday, March 11, 2015
    Rosanna Warren, Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Professor, Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    Andrew Abbott, Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago

All lectures will be held in Regenstein Library Room 122 in the evening and are open to the public with registration. To register and for updates including topics and times, visit

Introduction to Library Research – SSA: workshop

When: Monday, November 10, noon – 1 p.m.
Where: School of Social Service Administration, Room E-I 
969 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL
Description: Workshop for SSA students on Library Databases: how to find the most appropriate databases for your research and how to take advantage of all the bells and whistles built into them. Plus, time for questions and answers about any Library matters you would like to discuss. 
Contact: Paul Belloni
Social Service Administration Librarian
Bibliographer for Psychology, Education, & Social Service Administration
Tag: WorkshopsTraining
Notes: Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance.
Information on Assistive Listening Device

Introduction to EndNote (Online Version): workshop

When: Wednesday, November 5, noon – 1 p.m.
Thursday, November 6, noon – 1 p.m.
Tuesday, November 11, noon – 1 p.m.
Where: Crerar Library, Computer Classroom (November 5)

TECHB@R Regenstein Library, Room 160 (November 6 & 11)

Description: EndNote offers an online version of its popular citation manager that is available to the University of Chicago community freely through the Library. The online version offers the key features of the popular EndNote software, but with added enhancements of cloud storage, syncing, and the ability to easily share and collaborate. Come to this workshop and see if EndNote’s online version works for you.
Contact: John Crerar Library

Joseph Regenstein Library

Tag: WorkshopsTrainingGraduate Students
Notes: Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance.
Information on Assistive Listening Device

Exhibits From Gnostics to U-Boats: The Work of Robert McQueen Grant (1917-2014)

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor.

Exhibit Dates: October 20, 2014 – December 13, 2014

Grant in his retirement

Grant in his retirement

Grant as a young man

Grant as a young man in his office in Swift Hall.


Robert McQueen Grant was the most prolific and influential American historian of ancient Christianity of his generation. His research helped establish New Testament Studies as an historical endeavor that must take into account the full context of the Hellenistic world. His research interests were broad. He published multiple books on Gnosticism, an introduction to the New Testament that was later translated into French and an encyclopedia of the use of animals in early Christian literature. At the same time, he was an international authority on U-Boats in World War I. Robert McQueen Gant began teaching at the Divinity School in 1953. He passed away at his home in Hyde Park on June 10, 2014 at the age of 96. This exhibit displays paradigmatic works from his career, showcasing Grant’s breadth and depth as a scholar.

Feature Story Brenda Johnson named Library Director and University Librarian

Brenda L. Johnson, an internationally respected leader in the field of library science, has been appointed Library Director and University Librarian, Provost Eric Isaacs announced Oct. 16. Her five-year term begins Jan. 1, 2015.

“The Library plays a key role in the life of faculty and students at the University of Chicago,” Isaacs said. “Brenda’s expertise in supporting both physical collections and the proliferation of digital resources, along with her history of collaboration and innovative thinking, make her an outstanding leader for this important enterprise.”

Brenda Johnson

Brenda Johnson

Johnson currently serves as Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries at Indiana University, Bloomington—a position she has held since 2010. She succeeds Judith Nadler, who retired in June after nearly five decades of service to UChicago.

Before coming to Indiana University, Johnson was University Librarian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She spent more than 20 years at the University of Michigan, where she served as Associate University Librarian for Public Services, a position with responsibility over that institution’s 19 libraries.

She is active in the national and international library community through service and leadership on a variety of executive boards and committees, such as the board of governors of HathiTrust, the board of directors of CLOCKSS (a digital repository for web-based scholarly publications), the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Library Directors Group, the board of directors of Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment), and the Association of Research Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Steering Committee.

Johnson has become a nationally and internationally recognized voice on topics such as the rapid pace of change in information discovery and dissemination, the development of multi-institution “collective collections,” and research and learning environments, as well as the need for library transformation that fosters scholarly engagement and support. Her recent international speaking engagements have taken her to London, Shanghai, Kyushu and Yokohama, Japan.

“The University of Chicago Library is a unique and influential institution among academic libraries,” Johnson said. “I am truly honored by the opportunity to lead it through a time of transformation for all libraries, and eager to collaborate with faculty, students and staff to ensure its vitality in the years to come.”

Diane Lauderdale, professor of Health Studies, is chair of the Library’s faculty board and chaired the search committee that recommended Johnson for the position of Library Director.

“Brenda Johnson is an experienced library director and well-respected leader in the international academic library community,” Lauderdale said. “She will bring to the University of Chicago a deep understanding of collections, public and technical services and new technologies. We have an outstanding collection and staff here, but like all university libraries, face challenging decisions in the next few years about our physical and digital collections. The search committee felt confident that Brenda had the experience, insight and vision to lead our library to an even higher level of excellence.”

At a time of change for libraries nationwide, the University of Chicago Library has flourished as a center of intellectual inquiry recognized throughout academia and a dynamic learning environment for UChicago students. With its 11.9 million volumes, noted collections in a broad range of fields, including global resources and commitment to keeping its collection on campus, the Library has become a destination for scholars and a model for other institutions worldwide.  

The Joseph Regenstein Library and the adjoining Joe and Rika Mansueto Library are located in the heart of the Hyde Park campus—a testament to the Library’s continued importance to scholarly and campus life at the University, Isaacs said.

The Mansueto Library is the most recent addition to the library system. Mansueto houses cutting-edge facilities for book preservation and digitization, as well as a high-density underground storage system with the capacity to hold 3.5 million volume equivalents. The library was designed to fulfill scholars’ needs for easy access to print resources at a time when many other research universities are moving their collections to off-site storage.

The library is named in honor of Joe Mansueto, AB’78, MBA’80, and Rika Yoshida, AB’91, who gave a $25 million gift to the University in 2008. Architect Helmut Jahn designed the facility’s iconic glass dome, which encloses a light-filled reading room and an underground storage system that descends 50 feet below ground.

Alice Schreyer, Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections, has been leading the Library on an interim basis since Nadler’s retirement. She will continue in that role until Johnson’s arrival.

A University of Chicago news release

Access to books during second phase of B Level flooring replacement

Beginning in November, the Library will commence the final phase of a project to replace cracked and worn floor tile throughout the Regenstein B Level bookstacks. This phase replaces floor tile in the main aisles; flooring in the compact shelving book aisles was completed over the summer. Work will take place between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and will involve noise and dust at times, as well as limiting access to some aisles.

The work has been planned to cause as little disruption as possible, but some main aisles will be inaccessible for two to three days at a time during all building hours. Most book aisles will remain accessible throughout the project, and alternative routes to reach book aisles will be posted whenever possible. A small number of book aisles will be inaccessible at times, but no individual book aisle will be inaccessible for more than two working days.

To request a book from an inaccessible book aisle, visit the 1st Floor Circulation Desk. Staff will page material as soon as the aisle re-opens; you will receive a notice as soon as the item is available for pickup at Circulation.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience while this important work is completed. For updated information about this project, visit

Updated 10/06/14 to reflect that the final phase of the project will begin in November rather than October.

Apply for the Library Student Advisory Group

The Library is currently seeking representatives for the Library Student Advisory Group (LSAG) from the following Divisions and Schools:

  • The College (1st or 2nd year students)
  • Biological Sciences Division
  • Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Harris School of Public Policy
  • Law School
  • Pritzker School of Medicine
  • School of Social Service Administration

The Library Student Advisory Group serves as a formal channel of communication between students and the Library administration.  The LSAG discusses the collections and services provided through all of the University’s campus libraries — Crerar, D’Angelo, Eckhart, Mansueto, Regenstein, and SSA — and the present and future needs of the student community.  The Group assists in making specific recommendations to improve the Library and considers proposals for future changes in services.  Finally, members of the LSAG discuss how the Library can raise awareness of its offerings among students, and how students can communicate their wishes, needs, and concerns to the Library.

If you are interested in serving, please complete the online application by October 13, 2014.  If you would like additional information about the Library Student Advisory Group or would like to apply via e-mail, please contact Rebecca Starkey

Library offers new Catalog workshops

Would you like to learn more about the new Library Catalog? The University of Chicago Library is holding several 30-minute workshops outlining its many features.

Library Catalog: Basics
Get up to speed on searching the new Library Catalog. You’ll learn how to:

  • Search for specific books, ebooks, DVDs & more
  • Find a journal from a citation
  • Search for sources on a topic

Library Catalog: Advanced
Learn advanced searching techniques for the Catalog, including:

  • Searching in non-Roman scripts
  • Using Advanced Keyword Search and applying search limits
  • Constructing searches with Boolean operators and wildcards
  • Searching for exact terms and phrases
  • Indexing, relevance ranking, and boosting of search terms
  • Uniform titles, analytics, and other details in Catalog records

All programs are held in the TECHB@R in Regenstein Library, Room 160. Space is limited, and registration is strongly encouraged. Register for Library Catalog: Basics or Library Catalog: Advanced.

October 6

  • Basics: 5:30 – 6:00 PM
  • Advanced: 6:00 – 6:30 PM

October 10

  • Basics: 10:30 – 11:00 AM
  • Advanced: 11:00 – 11:30 AM

October 13

  • Basics: 3:00 – 3:30 PM
  • Advanced: 3:30 – 4:00 PM

October 14

  • Basics: 1:00 – 1:30 PM
  • Advanced: 1:30 – 2:00 PM

October 15

  • Basics: Noon – 12:30 PM
  • Advanced: 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Questions about this program can be directed to Rebecca Starkey at or 773-702-4484.

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance. Information on Assistive Listening Devices.

College students: get ready for Library research

Now that you’ve attended the Aims of Education address, it is time to put those goals into practice. The Library is offering several orientation programs to help you get started using our collections and services for your classes and assignments.

Library Boot CampGet in shape for College research by attending the Library Boot Camp on the A-Level of Regenstein Library on Wednesday and Thursday (September 24 and 25) at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Library Boot Camp will provide you with a fast-paced overview of key library services and research tools essential to success in your first quarter of classes.  Along with toning your Library skills, you’ll get a Library mug at the end—perfect for visiting the Ex Libris Café when classes start.

Don’t get lost in the bookstacks! Tour Regenstein Library From Top to Bottom on Friday and prepare to navigate the largest library on campus. The tour will cover all the key points of interest. Plus our librarians will also show you how to work the mysterious moving shelving on the B-Level. Tours start in the Regenstein Lobby at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Photo of Jenny Hart Giving a Library Tour

A Crerar orientation tour with Jenny Hart, Bibliographer for Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics. Photo by Jason Smith.

Are you a Pre-Med or majoring in the sciences? Science Research: An Introduction to the John Crerar Library is an orientation program that highlights services for the biological and physical sciences, and focuses on using journal literature (very important for science research). Programs will be held at Crerar Library on Thursday at 10:00 a.m and 1:00 p.m., along with Friday at 10:00 a.m.

Can’t make an orientation event? The Library will be on hand at the Student Activities and Resources Fair on October 3rd. Visit our table to meet some of our librarians, ask questions, and pick up some Library giveaways, like our Library pins—collect them all!

Reception and book signing for Andrew Abbott’s ‘Digital Paper’ on Oct. 1

Cover of "Digital Paper"To celebrate the publication of Andrew Abbott’s Digital Paper, the University of Chicago Press and the University of Chicago Library will host a reception and book signing at the Joseph Regenstein Library, Room 122, on October 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Abbott is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology and the College at the University of Chicago. He is also a past Chair of the Board of the University of Chicago Library.

Learn more about Digital Paper: A Manual for Research and Writing with Library and Internet Materials on the University of Chicago Press website.

Regenstein Library is located at 1100 East 57th Street in Chicago.

Summer quarter loans to UChicago students and staff will be automatically extended to January 9

Items checked out by currently registered University of Chicago students and staff for summer quarter and due October 3 will be automatically renewed by the Library for autumn quarter. As of September 21, all such items will have a new due date of January 9, 2015. No action by UChicago students and staff is necessary.

The automatic renewal is designed to ease the transition to the new Library Catalog and management system. The ability to view a list of checked out items and to renew materials online is currently unavailable to Library users through the My Account function in the new Catalog.

Library staff members are happy to generate a list of your checked-out items and to answer other questions about your account upon request. For assistance, please complete this circulation web form or visit a Library circulation desk.

For the latest information about the implementation of the Library Catalog, visit the Library News site or Ask a Librarian.


Alert Library improving Catalog and checkout response times

Update 9/22/14: Catalog response times have been improved. The Library continues to work on improving checkout response times.

Library staff members are actively working to improve system response times as full implementation of the new Library Catalog and management system continues. The Library apologizes for the inconvenience and appreciates your patience as we work to bring our new systems up to full speed.

Known issues

We expect to resolve these issues in the coming weeks:

Using the Catalog

  • Library Catalog information may be slow to appear.
  • Error messages are sometimes generated during Catalog searches. In such cases, please try your search again in 5 minutes.
  • Account information is currently unavailable through the new Catalog. Library staff members are happy to generate a list of your checked-out items and to answer other questions about your account upon request. For assistance, please complete this circulation web form or visit a Library circulation desk.


  • Checkout processing may be slow.
  • Borrow Direct is currently unavailable. Please use UBorrow or Interlibrary Loan instead.

Quarter loans automatically renewed for autumn

To ease the transition, summer quarter loans to University of Chicago students and staff are being automatically renewed for the autumn quarter on September 21. These books will be due on January 9, 2015.

If you have any questions about the new Catalog, please contact us by email, phone, chat, or in person through our Ask a Librarian service.

Ex Libris Cafe closed August 30 – September 14

Ex Libris Café will close Friday, August 29 at 3:30 p.m. and reopen Monday, September 15 with interim hours of 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Regular hours will resume Monday, September 29. 

The seating area and vending machines in Ex Libris will remain open during Regenstein’s regular building hours.

Labor Day: Crerar open limited hours, all other libraries closed

In observance of the Labor Day holiday, D’Angelo Law, Eckhart, Mansueto, Regenstein, and SSA libraries will be closed on Monday, September 1.

The John Crerar Library will be open 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. on September 1; its circulation and reference desks will be closed and visitor hours will be unavailable.

For a full list of library hours, see

Feature Story UChicago launches Kuali OLE and new Catalog

Academic librarians develop open-source software to meet faculty and student needs

The University of Chicago Library is pleased to announce its launch of the Kuali Open Library Environment (OLE) and a new Catalog based on VuFind.

An open-source, community-based library management system, Kuali OLE was created by a partnership of some of the nation’s leading university libraries, including the University of Chicago Library. Kuali OLE, which provides the Library’s technical infrastructure, is intentionally designed to function with a wide range of user interfaces chosen by various individual libraries, including Chicago’s new Catalog.

“We are especially pleased that by implementing Kuali OLE and VuFind we will be providing both a business system and a patron access module that are open source—planned, designed, governed and owned by the library community,” said James Mouw, Associate University Librarian for Collections Services at University of Chicago and Treasurer of the Kuali OLE Board. “Community ownership of key library systems affords us the ability to manage, develop, and enhance our infrastructure as new technologies emerge and the needs of our scholarly community evolve. The ability to move quickly and effectively, working in partnership with other academic research institutions with similar needs is something we have not had with commercial systems.”

Kuali OLE

Kuali OLE was founded by a partnership of research libraries that now includes University of Chicago, Indiana University (lead), SOAS—University of London, Lehigh University, Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of Florida, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University. The partners pooled resources and expertise beginning in 2008 with several grants from the Mellon Foundation to develop this next-generation library system. Chicago and Lehigh University are the initial implementers. Other partners plan to adopt the new system in summer 2015.

Kuali OLE partners

Kuali OLE partners

UChicago Library staff members have played an integral role in the development of Kuali OLE since the design phase in 2008 and continue to do so by developing specifications, participating in software development, undertaking migration planning, providing subject specialist expertise, and testing new development. They hold several key leadership positions on the Kuali OLE team, and dozens more are participating in working groups supporting development activities. Development continues with the next Kuali OLE release due in summer 2015.

New University of Chicago Library Catalog

UChicago Library staff members have tailored VuFind, a library catalog originally developed at Villanova University, to meet the needs of local users. Design goals for the Catalog were drawn from an extensive series of interviews with UChicago faculty and students, conducted to ensure that the new tool meets the needs of researchers. Initial designs were refined throughout the first half of 2014, following the public beta testing of the Catalog by users beginning on February 14, 2014.

Alumna tries out the new Library Catalog

Sylva Osbourne, AB’14, tries out the new Library Catalog. (Photo by Lloyd DeGrane)

“Participating in the VuFind open-source project has allowed the Library to take advantage of commonly requested features already developed by the VuFind community while giving us the latitude to create functionality unique to UChicago needs,” said Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for Digital Services.  “The level of engagement by our faculty and students in helping us design this new Catalog has been especially gratifying.”

The new Catalog features a simple, clean visual design while retaining all of the functionality that patrons identified as valuable in the pre-existing UChicago systems. It also adds new features requested during interviews, including display of the current availability of items on the search results page, as well as easier access to ebooks and ejournals.

“The successful, coordinated launch of these two new Library systems, designed to improve discovery and management of growing collections, could not have been accomplished without the creativity and talent of University of Chicago Library staff,” said Alice Schreyer, Interim Library Director and Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections at the University of Chicago. “We are proud to collaborate with our colleagues to develop these new systems that will benefit researchers from around the world.”

Alert New Catalog launched, BorrowDirect restored

10/23/14 update: BorrowDirect is restored.

The University of Chicago Library has launched its new Library Catalog, and most Library services that were temporarily interrupted during the transition period are now restored.   As of today, Lens and the previous Catalog are retired.

We are aware that some system functions may be working slowly. This will be addressed in the coming weeks.

For information about how to use the new Catalog, visit the Catalog Help page or contact us through our Ask a Librarian service.

If you have saved records using My Discoveries in Lens and wish to retain them, there is still time to place a request to have these migrated to the new Library Catalog.

We encourage you to report any difficulties you encounter in using the new Catalog, so that Library staff can quickly diagnose and resolve them.


UChicago News: Exhibit provides intimate view of UChicago researchers in Mexico

New exhibit at Special Collections unearths UChicago’s research in Mexico
UChicago News – August 18, 2014

Workshop: The Library for Instructors and TAs

Librarian teaching a class

Library instruction for courses is just one of many services available to faculty and TAs to support their teaching. Photo by Jason Smith.

You may use the Library’s resources for your research, but do you know how the Library supports teaching? 

Attend our new workshop and learn about the Library services available to you as an instructor or TA for a course, including:

  • How to set up course reserves in Chalk
  • Requesting Library instruction or training programs
  • Setting up your Library Chalk module
  • Using Special Collections for your teaching
  • Reserving Library classrooms and equipment

In addition, the program will provide an overview of some little-known services available for your students, including reference consultations, statistical software support, and citation managers. Registration is requested. Please feel free to bring your lunch.

The Library for Instructors and TAs
Friday, September 26, Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Regenstein Library, Room A-11
Register now

Questions about this program can be directed to Rebecca Starkey at or 773-702-4484.

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance. Information on Assistive Listening Devices.

August 1914: The Eastern Front

Exhibition Location: Regenstein Library, Second Floor Reading Room
Dates: August 1 – December 31, 2014

Map of Europe in 1914In August 1914, most of the countries that we now think of as Eastern Europe (or Central Europe or Southeastern Europe or East Central Europe (nothing about this area of the world is less than complex and multi-faceted!) were either part of one or another of the region’s multinational, multilingual, and multi-religious empires—the Russian Empire, the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Ottoman Empire—or had just recently struggled free from decades or centuries of imperial rule. On this centennial of the beginning of The Great War, this two-case exhibit attempts to place these countries “on the map” as they were in August 1914. It is an almost impossible task, as the complexity of the borders, alliances, relationships and aspirations of these crumbling empires and emerging nations were to clash mightily and disastrously as they positioned themselves on the Eastern Front.

The University of Chicago Library ranked # 1 by Princeton Review

The University of Chicago was named as having the “Best College Library” in Princeton Review’s annual rankings of colleges and universities.

In the 2015 list of “Best 379 Colleges,” released August 4, Chicago ranked #1 for “Best College Library” and was labeled a “Best Value College” and a “Green College.” The University also made several other top-20 lists, including “Students Study the Most” and “Best Classroom Experience.”

Chicago has been named one of the best college libraries by Princeton Review in several past years. Princeton Review bases its rankings on samples of current students, surveying an average of 343 students on each campus. The company has published rankings of colleges since 1992.

New printing service coming to libraries and residence halls in August

07/31/14 update: The transition to the new printing service has been rescheduled to begin the week of August 11. See below for further information.

In early August, a new printing service will be rolled out to campus libraries and residence halls. The service will introduce upgraded equipment for printing, copying, scanning, and faxing, as well as a new and improved software interface for web-based printing.  Microform scanners will also be upgraded as part of the new service, and an overhead scanner for bound materials will be added at the Joseph Regenstein Library.

Starting Friday, August 1, users will no longer be able to use the current web printing service or to add value to their cards using the current web revalue service.  Printing from library computers and from personal computers with print drivers installed will continue to work throughout the transition.  Current copy card machines will still allow users to add value to their current cards using cash only.  The Library encourages users to avoid adding value to current cards or purchasing new copy cards until after the new printing service is in place.

Starting the week of August 11, the new equipment will be installed and the new web service will be launched at  There may be brief periods in the week of August 11 when printing services are unavailable at a specific location while the old equipment is removed and the new equipment installed.

The cost of printing, copying, scanning, and faxing using the multifunction devices will remain the same as the 2013-14 prices for these services. Scanning at microform scanners and the new overhead scanner will cost the same as scanning at the multifunction devices: 2 cents per page.

Users who currently have an outstanding balance on their UChicago Card or recently issued library card will have the balance transferred to the new system automatically.  Users with older library cards or copy cards will need to ask for assistance in manually transferring any outstanding balance on their old card to a new card.

We appreciate your patience as the work to move to the new system is completed.  For more information about the upcoming changes, see

Exhibits Feature Story Scholarship as a living process

Exhibition shows UChicago researchers in mid-thought in Mexico

Researching Mexico: University of Chicago Field Explorations in Mexico, 1896-2014 is on display in the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery through October 4, 2014. An associated web exhibit is available online. Co-curator Seonaid Valiant, UChicago History Ph.D. Candidate 2014, explains how her dissertation research and other academic experiences influenced her approach to creating the exhibition.

Has field work in Mexico been particularly important to University of Chicago faculty? Why focus a Special Collections exhibition on this subject?

The relationship between the University of Chicago and Mexico has always been incredibly significant—particularly for the social sciences—but that relationship isn’t as well known as it could be. For more than a hundred years, University of Chicago professors across many disciplines have developed important, ongoing working relationships with the people, academic institutions, and government of Mexico. As a result, the Special Collections Research Center has developed collections of fascinating documents and artifacts that have been donated by professors over the years.

Howard Taylor Ricketts, Mexico City, 1910

Howard Taylor Ricketts, Mexico City, 1910

For many scholars, Mexico afforded opportunities and adventures—particularly for researchers in the field—that were unavailable elsewhere. Telling the personal stories of these researchers and scholars highlights how passionate, interesting, and dramatic the life of the mind can be. Howard Taylor Ricketts’s tragic story, for example, demonstrates how this work can be both crucially important and dangerous. Invited by the Mexican government in 1909 to research the cause of a typhus outbreak in Mexico City, Ricketts worked with Mexican doctors, nurses, and government officials to confirm the source of the problem. He succeeded, but not before he contracted a fatal case of typhus. We included the funeral ribbon placed on his coffin by the Mexican government to show how his sacrifice was recognized.

Were some of the faculty members featured in the exhibition important to your development as a graduate student?

Curating this exhibition was a way of connecting my own work back to that of my predecessors and highlighting the tradition of Mexican scholarship at the University. For example, Friedrich Katz, whose papers are part of the exhibition, was my mentor when I first entered the History Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago. When I knew him, near the end of his life, he was a world-renowned and well-respected scholar of the Mexican revolution, but as I sorted through the unprocessed boxes that contained his papers, I was fascinated to discover correspondence detailing his struggle, as an ambitious academic, to leave East Germany. He finally found a home at the University of Chicago, where he could pursue scholarship without the threat of anti-Semitism and censorship. After the publication of his biography of Pancho Villa in 1998, Katz was named an honorary citizen of the state of Chihuahua and awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government.

How is the exhibition connected to your dissertation research?

In my research, which is focused on foreign archaeologists battling with Mexican government officials at the turn of the 20th century, I explore how scholastic ideas develop and travel among scholars informally before transitioning to more formal discourse and then finally to publication. I trace these ideas through the discussions, friendships, and rivalries that scholars have had with each other and with government officials. That has made me particularly attuned to the idea of scholarship as a dynamic process, inflected by personal relationships and private lives, and academic discourse as something that has to be actively constructed.

Redfield family

Redfield family in Mexico, 1929

In keeping with this interest, many of the items selected for this show represent the research process rather than final publications. One of the goals of the exhibition is to give the public a glimpse of scholarship in action and to present it as a living process. The papers and artifacts created by these professors during the course of their field work give us access to their reflections and preparations in various phases of their work. In the exhibition, we’ve aimed to capture these thinkers in mid-thought, before their final conclusions have been drawn, and to present their intellectual achievements as emerging from a process of engagement with the raw materials of their research. Research notes, correspondence, and diaries give a more intimate, nuanced portrayal of each scholar’s development and place their intellectual work in a fuller context.

For example, the letters from the anthropologist Robert Redfield to his wife, Margaret Park Redfield, interweave thoughts about his work in Chichen Itza in 1932 with family concerns and show how important his wife’s role as confidant and sounding board was as he began to develop his scholastic plans in an informal way.

How did you come to co-curate the exhibition, and what made you interested in doing so?

I was delighted when Kathleen Feeney, Head of Archives Processing and Digital Access in Special Collections, invited me to co-curate the exhibition with her. Kathleen knew that I was already familiar with many of the relevant collections, both because of the research I had conducted for my dissertation and because of the work I had done there as a graduate student archives processing assistant in Special Collections. One of the things that drew me to study history was the excitement of working directly with documents and artifacts in archives. Curating this exhibition with Kathleen, I knew, would give me a chance to share some of my favorite items and the stories that went with them, as well as my passion for the materials and the mission of Special Collections.

Which are your favorites?

The Frederick Starr notebooks, the corridos in the Robert Redfield papers and the lantern slides in the Adolf Carl Noé papers. These, along with the diaries, linguistic note cards, letters, and portraits in some of the other collections, tell a larger story about the freedom of investigation that University of Chicago scholars have consistently found in Mexico.

Chiapas animals and index card

Toy animals used to identify indigenous words, circa 1950s

Did you make any new discoveries as you curated the exhibition?

Curating Researching Mexico brought home for me how important it is for today’s scholars to be able to work directly with archives and original artifacts associated with their predecessors. Many of the most interesting items on display were only discovered in the process of preparing for the exhibit, by methodically investigating the Special Collections holdings.

For example, we were surprised to uncover the collection of toy animals that now forms one of the exhibition’s most unusual displays. In their field work, the linguists in the Chiapas Project asked native indigenous language speakers to identify these toy animals in their own languages. Finding the animals and the lists of translations not only delighted us but helped us to understand the process that the researchers used to collect words one at a time, finally gathering enough materials for textbooks in Tzeltal, Yucatec, and Quiche.

In bringing unseen materials like these to the public eye, we want to hint at the unexpected connections and discoveries that can be made through archival research and encourage students and scholars to examine primary sources in archives for themselves. Finding these little-known stories can be a thrilling experience, and preserving and sharing them with other scholars, academics, students, and the public is an important part of the work of the University.