Historical Timeline

Since its earliest days over a century ago, the iSchool at Illinois has been at the forefront of shaping professional practice and the development of research, teaching, and scholarship in library and information science. Listed below are some highlights from our distinguished history.

The library science program at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago is founded.

Katharine Lucinda Sharp serves as university librarian and founding director of the Department of Library Science, as recommended by Melvil Dewey, American librarian, educator, and inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification.

The Department of Library Science is moved to Urbana and renamed the Illinois State Library School.

The world’s first baccalaureate degree in library science is awarded at Illinois.

Phineas L. Windsor serves as librarian and director of the Library School.

The School is renamed the University of Illinois Library School.

Robert B. Downs serves as library director and director of the School, then as dean of library administration after 1958; following his tenure, oversight of the library and School are separated.

The doctoral degree in library science is established at Illinois; it is now the oldest extant doctoral degree in the field.

A one-year master’s degree is inaugurated as a graduate professional degree, establishing it as the expected preparation for professional work in libraries.

Beta Phi Mu, an international national library science honor society, is founded at the University of Illinois by a group of leading librarians and library educators for the purpose of recognizing and encouraging scholastic achievement among library science students.

The Windsor Lectures are established by alumni to honor the career of Phineas L. Windsor.

Library Trends, which explores a current topic in professional librarianship in each issue, is first published.

The School is renamed the Graduate School of Library Science.

The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is established to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas.

Herbert Goldhor serves as director of the Graduate School of Library Science.

Charles H. Davis serves as dean of the School.

The School is renamed the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Leigh S. Estabrook serves as dean. Her accomplishments include building a more interdisciplinary faculty; placing computers on faculty desktops (mid-1980s); launching the MS online education program, Leep (1996); and securing a separate building (1994) and support for a building addition (completed in 2001).

The Center for Children’s Books, a renowned research collection of youth literature, moves to the School in the early 1990s, bringing with it The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, a leading review journal that has been published since 1947.

The School begins delivering its master’s degree online through Leep, originally named the Library Education Experimental Program.

John M. Unsworth serves as dean. During his tenure, he expands the online program, strengthens technological infrastructure, and increases the number of tenure-system faculty and percentage of underrepresented students.

The School begins offering the Certificate of Advanced Study in Digital Libraries, which provides a thorough and technically focused background in digital libraries.

The Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS) is established with the mission to conduct research on information problems that impact scientific and scholarly inquiry.

The Center for Digital Inclusion is launched to foster inclusive and sustainable societies through research, teaching, and public engagement about information and communication technologies and their impacts on communities, organizations, and governments.

Allen H. Renear is named dean of the School, following more than two years of service as interim dean.

The School offers a new master’s degree in information management.

The School is renamed the School of Information Sciences.

Eunice E. Santos is named dean of the iSchool.

The School offers a new bachelor's degree in information sciences.