Projects and Tools at UIUC



BiblioTech is a new center within Rare Books and Manuscript Library devoted to using new technologies—everything from digitization to bio-imaging—in order to access, study, and better understand special collections materials. Caroline Szylowicz is overseeing a wide variety of projects and serving as liaison to places like Scholarly Commons, DCC, NCSA, and various humanities, science, and computer science departments. Some examples of our work include the Kolb-Proust archive, Project Unica, bio-imaging of medieval manuscripts, spectral photography of palimpsests, and an illustrated, online taxonomy of the book as physical object.


eDreams draws upon the University of Illinois’s strength as a leader in science and engineering as well as its internationally recognized faculty and programs in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to reimagine creative productions, technologies, expressions and their potential for positive impact on our communities and cultures.

eDream brings together artists, scholars, and technical innovators from many disciplines, diverse perspectives to realize the dream of arts futures in present practice. We reach out to the next generation of digital media artists and media-talented knowledge workers to prepare them for a world that exponentially reinvents itself.


The Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign charts new ground in high performance computing and the humanities, arts, and social sciences by creating both learning environments and spaces for digital discovery. I-CHASS presents path-breaking research, computational resources, collaborative tools, and educational programming to showcase the future of the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

With an emphasis on identifying, creating, and adapting computational tools that accelerates research and education, I-CHASS engages visionary scholars from across the globe to demonstrate approaches that interface next-generation interdisciplinary research with high-performance computing. I-CHASS provides these researchers with world-class computational resources, both human and technical, to enhance their knowledge discovery and exploration.


The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established in 1997 to promote interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The IPRH grants fellowships to Illinois faculty and graduate students, and in fall 2010 welcomed the first Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellows in the Humanities, supported by a six-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The IPRH coordinates and hosts numerous lectures, symposia, and panel discussions on a wide variety of topics, and provides awards that recognize excellence in humanities research to faculty and students. The IPRH supports faculty-driven initiatives for interdisciplinary public programming in the humanities through its Event Grants Program, and provides support to faculty and graduate student reading groups.

Scholarly Commons

The Scholarly Commons, a unit of the University of Illinois Library, opened in August 2010 to serve the emerging needs of faculty, researchers and graduate students pursuing in-depth research and scholarly inquiry. Visit the Scholarly Commons digital humanities research guide to learn more about the tools and resources offered. We are …

… a consultation space in the Main Library where experts are available to support exploration of new models for teaching, learning, and research in the contemporary academic environment.

… a sandbox to try advanced software and specialized hardware for tasks such as text-encoding, digitization, qualitative data analysis, geospatial, textual, and numeric data analysis, OCR, and Web usability.

… a virtual learning environment here on our website highlighting workshops, tips, tools, and recently published articles.




The ARTstor Digital Library is a nonprofit resource that provides more than one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with an accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research. Our community-built collections comprise contributions from outstanding international museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists’ estates.

The University Library is currently a development partner for Shared Shelf, an image management system that enables institutions to manage, store, use, and publish their institutional and faculty image collections within their institution or publicly on the Web.

Emblematica Online

The Emblematica Online project is digitizing two of the world’s largest and most important Renaissance emblem book collections, thereby establishing a digital subject library shared across two institutions, theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA (Illinois) and the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany (HAB). A collaboration between the HAB, the Illinois Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign, the project aims to digitize, index and build a new portal providing integrated access to our digitized emblem book collections and eventually those of other major emblem book collections worldwide. The project will serve as a prototype for similar digitized image-text related projects in the humanities. In 2009, the project was jointly funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in the U.S. and the Deutsche Forschungs Gemeinschaft in Germany under, the “Bilateral Digital Humanities Program,” to present emblem books in an innovative digital environment and to develop a sustainable, production portal for a key genre of Renaissance texts and images, replacing the prototype OpenEmblem Book Portal developed at Illinois several years ago (no longer available). To fulfill the project goals, Illinois and the HAB have been working on three constituent activities: 1) Emblem book Digitization: the complete digitization of two emblem collections of world-wide prominence; 2) The German Emblem Book Databases: the creation of extensive metadata with broad functionality for the German emblems of both institutions; and 3) The OpenEmblem Portal: an open access research site incorporating book-level metadata from emblem digitization projects worldwide and emblem-level metadata from both institutions.


ExploreCU is an Omeka powered website and mobile app that seeks to curate the arts, culture, and history of Champaign-Urbana through community generated content. Users of the app will be able view tours built around specific themes, such as public art in Champaign-Urbana, as well as geo-tagged locations within each tour, such as a specific piece of art. ExploreCU is still in the early phases of development, but it welcomes ideas and content from its community.

ExploreCU is built using Curatescape, a mobile framework for iOS & Android, designed to “curate the landscape” through the use of geo-located historical texts, archival film and images, oral history (and other) audio, and short documentary videos. Curatescape is a trademark of Cleveland State University’s Center for Public History + Digital Humanities. For more information, please visit Mobile Historical.

ExploreCU is created in partnership between the Visual Resources Center in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Scholarly Commons in the University Library. It is generously funded by the University Library’s Innovation and Seed Funding grant program.

Omeka and are web-publishing platforms that allow users to create or collaborate on a website to display collections and build digital exhibitions. requires a download and installation, whereas is web-based and the contents of your site are hosted by Omeka servers.


SAHARA is a digital image archive developed over the past four years by the Society of Architectural Historians in collaboration with ARTstor.  Funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, SAHARA allows SAH members either to upload their own digital photographs and QTVR panoramas to a shared online archive or to download images from the archive for teaching and research. The SAHARA collection has been developed for all who study, interpret, photograph, design and preserve the built environment worldwide.

SAHARA now has nearly 40,000 images that were contributed by architects, scholars, photographers, graduate students, preservationists and others who share an interest in the built world.