Libraries I Love: Illinois History & Lincoln Collections

I’ve decided that I should occasionally expose my readers to Libraries I Love (many of which I work at or at least frequent). I highly recommend you visit all of them, as they are lovely places with wonderful staff members and amazing holdings.

For most of the past year I have volunteered at the Illinois History & Lincoln Collections Library, a branch of the main library at the University of Illinois. This summer I’ve officially begun a practicum (a structured internship for academic credit) there which will continue through the fall. My main project for the practicum is dealing with a large and out of sorts map collection (something which I will post about at length in a future post).

I’ve loved the IL History & Lincoln Library since I first stepped through its doorway last fall. However, for those who are unfamiliar with it, here are some reasons why you should visit, if you get the chance:

  1. There is Abraham Lincoln artwork everywhere and it is all amazing.

    Grecian Lincoln bust!
  2. The collections contain approximately 25,000 volumes, 2,000 cubic feet of manuscripts, and a large number of maps, broadsides, prints and photographs, artifacts, and ephemera. That is an amazing amount of information with something for everyone!
  3. You will have access to completely unique resources. For instance, how would you like to read the letters of a Civil War soldier that are completely unpublished and have been seen by less than a dozen people? You can hold undiscovered history in your own two hands!
  4. The people who work there are lovely, insightful, and always willing to help!
  5. If you’re from Illinois you can look up where your original family homestead was using the extensive collection of historical platmaps.
  6. You can rub elbows with researchers from all over the country!
  7. If you are a Champaign/Urbana local, it is much closer than the Lincoln Museum in Springfield.
  8. Unlike many other libraries on campus, the IL History & Lincoln Library has archival materials and is adjacent to the Rare Books Library; hence, the careful climate control makes for a blissfully comfortable reading room.
  9. You’ll have access to the latest Lincoln scholarship (yes, it is definitely still being produced en masse), including such recent titles as: American oracle : the Civil War in the civil rights eraThe global Lincoln,  and Lincoln, Inc. : selling the sixteenth president in contemporary America.
  10. Let me reiterate: Lincoln. Artwork. It does not get better, people.
Norman Rockwell Lincoln. So classic. So American. So good.

To visit the Illinois History & Lincoln Collections:

Address: 322 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801
Hours: M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Phone: (217) 333-1777



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