Main Library (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)

Library - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Location 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, Illinois
Coordinates 40°6′18″N 88°13′43″W / 40.10500°N 88.22861°W / 40.10500; -88.22861Coordinates: 40°6′18″N 88°13′43″W / 40.10500°N 88.22861°W / 40.10500; -88.22861
Area 4 acres (1.6 ha)
Built 1924 (1924)-1929
Architect Platt, Charles Adams
Architectural style Georgian Revival
MPS University of Illinois Buildings designed by Charles A. Platt MPS
NRHP Reference # 00000413[1]
Added to NRHP August 11, 2000

The Main Library is a historic library on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. Built in 1924, the library was the third built for the school; it replaced Altgeld Hall, which had become too small for the university's collections. Architect Charles A. Platt designed the Georgian Revival building, one of several on the campus which he designed in the style. The red brick building features a three-bay main entrance with limestone archways and a green slate roof with a series of eleven dormers and four tall chimneys. The library's interior was decorated with 27 stained glass windows showing Renaissance printer's marks and four murals.[2] The library was purposely built away from the center of campus, a break from traditional campus planning, in order to allow the building to expand; this proved necessary, as three bookstack additions have been placed on the building.[3] The building houses several area libraries, as well as the University Archives and The Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The library was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 11, 2000.[1]


In 1868, the University’s first president, John Milton Gregory, personally acquired 644 volumes to establish the library. By 1880, the library housed 12,500 volumes, and by the turn of the century, some 70,000 volumes. Three decades later, Edmund Janes James—another bibliophilic president—could boast of a library of over one million volumes. At over thirteen million volumes today, the University of Illinois is the second largest university library collection in the United States.[4]

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library within the Main Library building is one of the largest special collections repositories in the United States.[5][6] Its collections, consisting of over half a million volumes and three kilometers of manuscript material, encompass the broad areas of literature, history, art, theology, philosophy, technology and the natural sciences, and include large collections of emblem books, writings of and works about John Milton, and authors' personal papers.[7]


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