Request from the Department of Classics at the University of Illinois

The Classics Library at the University of Illinois, with an open-shelved reference collection of over 60,000 volumes, is one of the best in the world. Founded in 1908, and developed by W. A. Oldfather and A.S. Pease in the 1920's from the historic Vahlen and Dittenberger collections, it now houses magnificent holdings in Greek and Latin Language and Literature, Philology, Linguistics, Greco-Roman Religion, Archaeology, Palaeography, Numismatics, Epigraphy, Papyrology, Art History, Ancient History, Patristic and Jewish Theology, Medieval and Renaissance Latin, and Byzantine Greek. With a staff of two, including one full-time scholar-librarian with a PhD in Classics and a Senior Library Specialist with a Ph.D. in Linguistics, it is an indispensable research and teaching tool for faculty, students, and countless visitors from the U.S. and abroad.

In a recent "State of the Library" address, University Librarian Paula Kaufman, under direction from the Provost to reorganize how the library delivered its services, stated, "The best way to provide the level of service we've provided in the past is to move away from our monolithic department library model and toward new service models that recognize the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of academic inquiry." As one possible means of implementing this initiative, the library is considering consolidating the Classics Library with all of modern European literature (English and various European foreign language) to create a single even more monolithic supra-departmental library. The only stated intellectual justification for doing so is that it will create greater "interdisciplinarity," on the assumption, it seems, that Classical studies deals only with literary works, and oblivious to the fact that Classical studies-as attested by the nature of the holdings of the Classics Library-already is as interdisciplinary as a field of scholarly studies can ever get. More pragmatically, the reasons for wanting to consolidate the Classics Library involve reduction of "service points" for library users and space issues.

If this initiative is implemented, it will mark the end of the Classics Library as an effective instrument of scholarly studies. The on-shelf collection will be heavily reduced, thus destroying a unified and coherent collection that has taken nearly 100 years to put together. The social, intellectual, and pedagogical home that the Classics Library has fostered for many decades will be destroyed. The reputation of the Classics Library in particular and the University Library in general will be seriously damaged, and library usage will decline even further. In order to keep this from happening, we, the members of the Department of the Classics at the University of Illinois, hope that you will support our efforts on behalf of the Classics Library by signing the petition that you will find at the following URL:

If you would like to send a more detailed letter, please address it to:

Paul Kaufman
University Librarian and Dean of Libraries
230 Main Library
MC 522
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801
Email: ptk AT

With a copy to

Professor Linda Katehi
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
217 Swanlund Administration Building
601 East John Street
Champaign, Illinois 61820
Email: provost AT

Thank you!