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 then 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. 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:
The Ricker Library also provides access to several important electronic databases. The holdings cover the fields of architecture, architectural history, art, art history, museum studies, and art education.
The art and design collection includes both general and special period works on the history of art, monographs on artists, sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, crafts, museology, art education, graphic design, industrial design, and prints and printmaking. The unit has an extensive holding of exhibition catalogs from all time periods and geographic locations.
The architecture collection includes landmark titles in architecture, history and theory of design, historic preservation, professional practice and management, structures, and monographs on architects and building types. The unit maintains a particularly strong collection of information on current practicing architects.
Ricker Library has a major collection of catalogues raisonnés on important artists, architects, and sculptors. We endeavor to buy both current and out-of-print editions.
Among the unit's treasures are several large portfolios dealing with Frank Lloyd Wright, complete runs of rare nineteenth-century architecture and art journals, and Ricker's own translations of more than thirty classic works on architecture.
Ricker Library has a subscription to the entire Cicognara Library on microfiche (Call numbersMFICHE700 C485). The Cicognara collection, housed in the Vatican Library, represents the 5,000 books on art and related subjects assembled by the eighteenth-century patron of the arts, Count Leopoldo Cicognara (1767-1834).
Thanks to a unique cooperative agreement in the 1950s with the Art Institute of Chicago, 31 microfilm reels dealing with midwestern architectural drawings were filmed under the auspices of a microfilming project sponsored jointly by the Art Institute's Burnham Library and the University of Illinois.