The foundation for the Library's architecture and art collections was laid by the country's first college graduate of architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Nathan Clifford Ricker (1843-1924), who in 1873 purchased several important architectural treatises and folios. As his personal collection outgrew his office space, first a room, and eventually an entire wing of the Architecture Building were assigned to house the collection. By that time, his collection included not only the folios, but also a photographic collection and several rare first editions.
The Ricker Library was first housed in Engineering Hall, and opened in the Fall of 1894 (Block 2013). It was later moved to the Architecture and Kindred Spirits building ca. 1927. In recognition of this founding role, the University's Board of Trustees in 1917 authorized the Library to name the unit in Professor Ricker's honor.
Today, the collections of the Ricker Library of Architecture and Art include more than 120,000 volumes and 33,000 serials (some housed in the Library's main book stacks) 35,000 microforms, and a small but burgeoning collection of video. The holdings cover the fields of architecture, architectural history, art, art history, design, museum studies, and art education.
Some of the collection highlights include extensive holdings of exhibition catalogs from all time periods and geographic locations, information on current practicing architects, a major collection of catalogues raisonees, several large portfolios dealing with Frank Lloyd Wright, complete runs of rare nineteenth-century architecture and art journals, translations of over thirty classic works on architecture, thirty-one microfilm reels of Midwestern architectural drawings, and subscription to the Cicognara Library on microfiche.
Text courtesy Ricker Library