The University of Chicago Library Backgrounder


As a center of intense intellectual inquiry, the University of Chicago Library shares with the University of Chicago the aspiration to be the most dynamic learning environment in the world.

The University of Chicago Library provides comprehensive resources and services in support of the research, teaching, and learning needs of the University and broader research community. Its librarians are committed to understanding the needs of faculty, students and staff and to building and preserving the collections that support these needs. The Library ensures that collections are forward-looking, diverse in breadth and form, open to browsing, and of world-renowned quality.

The Library helps researchers and students to discover and use local and global information resources in hospitable physical and virtual environments. Librarians develop innovative ways to use new technologies to preserve, locate, and deliver resources—from second-century manuscripts to electronic publications to scientific data sets—to help researchers and students make new discoveries that facilitate their intellectual growth and increase the world’s knowledge.

University of Chicago librarians advance local, national, and international library and information initiatives and collaborate with University faculty, graduate students, staff, and partners outside the University to enrich the global research and learning community. The Library thrives on diversity and actively develops, encourages and sustains the expertise, skill, commitment and innovative spirit of its staff.

Using the Library

University of Chicago faculty, students and staff have borrowing privileges and can access the Library’s electronic resources remotely. The Library’s physical collections are available to other researchers upon application, and a membership program is available to organizations. The Special Collections Research Center’s collections are available to scholars and independent researchers with prior contact; the Center’s exhibitions are open to the public. The John Crerar Library is open to members of the public conducting research in the sciences. Locally created digital collections are available online to all.


The University of Chicago Library is the home of one of the largest and richest research collections in the world, with resources at six library sites on the Hyde Park campus.

  • Fields: Humanities, social sciences, physical and biological sciences, medicine, technology, law, mathematics, statistics, computer science, social work and business collections.
  • Area Studies: East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, and Slavic and Eastern European.

Physical Collections (as of June 2007)

  • 7.6 million print volumes
  • 44,500 active periodical titles
  • 434,000 maps and photographs
  • 59,000 sound recordings, films and videos
  • 35,200 linear ft. of archives and manuscripts

Online Resources (as of June 2007)

  • 109,000 full-text serials
  • 294,000 monographs
  • 769 reference databases
  • 256,000 locally digitized pages

Average Annual Collection Growth

  • 140,000 new monographs

Collection Use (in 2006-2007)

  • 777,000 items circulated
  • 54,700 items lent via Interlibrary Loan
  • 4.5 million page views of electronic full text

Special Collections Research Center

The Special Collections Research Center, the principal repository for and steward of the Library's rare books, manuscripts, University Archives, and the Chicago Jazz Archives, provides primary sources to stimulate, enrich, and support research, teaching, learning and administration at the University of Chicago. Special Collections makes these resources available to a broad constituency as part of the University's engagement with the larger community of scholars and independent researchers.

  • Rare books: 265,000 books, with strengths in American and European history, literature and drama; the history of theology, philosophy and philology; and the history of science and medicine. Highlights include a 1623 edition of Galileo’s "Il Saggiatore" with notations in his handwriting, one of 12 known copies of Edgar Allan Poe’s "Tamerlane and Other Poems"; a comprehensive collection of translations of Homer’s works; and the Ludwig Rosenberger Library of Judaica.
  • Manuscripts: Collection spans from the second century to the present. Highlights include important manuscript materials of Boccaccio, Chaucer, Sir Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Julius Rosenwald, the editorial files of "Poetry; A Magazine of Verse," and the RR Donnelley Archives.
  • Archives: Papers, photographs and other materials documenting the work of the University of Chicago and its students, alumni, faculty and others, among them Edith and Grace Abbott, Saul Bellow, Mircea Eliade, Enrico Fermi, Edward Levi, Leo Strauss, and Sol Tax.
  • Selected Digital Collections: Chopin Early Editions; The "Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae" Digital Collection of 16th-century engravings of Rome and Roman antiquities; A Century of Progress: The 1933-34 World's Fair.

Collaborative Relationships


University of Chicago librarians are recognized as experts in reference, rare books and manuscripts, preservation, cataloging, information access, and technical services.

Library Leadership

Judith Nadler, Director of the Library

University of Chicago Library Locations

D’Angelo Law Library, 1121 East 60th Street, Chicago, Ill. 60637
Eckhart Library, 1118 East 58th Street, Chicago Ill. 60637
John Crerar Library, 5730 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, Ill. 60637
Joseph Regenstein Library, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, Ill. 60637
Social Service Administration Library, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, Ill. 60637
William Rainey Harper Memorial Library, 1116 East 59th Street, Chicago, Ill. 60637

Web Site

Press Contact

Rachel Rosenberg