Edmund Janes James Builds a Library: The University of Illinois Library, 1904-1920
Abstract

Edmund Janes James was one of the most effective American university presidents of his generation in building an excellent university library. He had gained a strong reverence for German institutions, especially the ability of universities to advance the public welfare, while taking a doctorate at the University of Halle. As president of the University of Illinois from 1904 to 1920, James worked with three head librarians—Katharine L. Sharp, Francis K. W. Drury, and Phineas L. Windsor—to build up library collections adequate not only to the needs of undergraduates but also to the task of training graduate students and providing the faculty with the research materials needed to discover new truth. James took a passionate interest in the library. When Sharp retired, he made a sustained and thorough effort to recruit an outstanding librarian to replace her. Drury and Windsor were both highly competent librarians who contributed significantly to building the collection and making the library useful to readers and research scholars. James, a demanding president, expected much of his librarians and drove himself hard. He envisioned the creation of "one of the great libraries of the world" at the University of Illinois and laid the foundation for the realization of his vision in later years.