The Urbana Free Library 210 W Green St Urbana IL 61801 217-367-4057

The Urbana Free Library is a very important organization in the Urbana community, providing access to a wide variety of information resources free of charge. In addition to abundant use of IT for staff and administrative purposes, the library makes IT resources available to the public. One of the most important of these resources in the digital age is a computer lab that anyone can use regardless of residency. The policies they have in place for computer use highlight their privileging of patron needs; the reservation system ensures that all patrons have access to a computer quickly, and for as much time as they need so long as no one else is waiting for access. The library has plans in the near future to reorganize and upgrade their computer lab in order to respond to increasing demand and the comfort of patrons.

  1. Library Hours
  2. Resources
  3. Computer Lab Redesign
  4. History
  5. External Links
  6. Related

Library Hours

  • Monday-Thursday: 9 am-9 pm
  • Friday-Saturday: 9 am-6 pm
  • Sunday: 1 pm-5 pm



  • The library has many works of local artists on display in the building.  Visit the "Art at Your Library" webpage for details about the artwork.
  • The library has a computer lab with printing and scanning available.  See the Computer Lab Redesign section for more information.  It costs 10¢ per page to print (50¢ for color).  Technology assistance and support is also available.
  • Free wi-fi
  • Champaign County Historical Archives
  • Cafe and Friends Book Shop

Computer lab redesign

The computer lab space after all the computers were removedIn September 2012, library staff and folks from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science overhauled the layout of the library's Flex-n-Gate Computer Center.  The library's blog featured the story of the redesign and photos of the work involved in building new tables (see article 1 and article 2).



Early founding and expansion of the building. Founded in 1874, The Urbana Free Library is one of the oldest public libraries in the U.S. Prior of 1874, the Urbana Library Association depended on annual membership fees and citizen donations to operate a reading room, renting a second-story room on Main Street. Then it donated its books to the City of Urbana, and they founded The Urbana Free Library. It was so named to emphasize the fact that it was open to all city residents regardless of ability to pay.

The current landmark library building opened on July 18, 1918. It was built with a $35,000 gift from Mary E. Busey as a memorial to her late husband, Samuel T. Busey.

The library was first expanded in 1975 with a contemporary addition. The second expansion, started in 2002 and completed in 2005, doubled the library’s size and represented a complete renovation and greatly improved the building’s technology (Urbana Free Library, History).

Later developments in technology. In 1984, the Urbana Free Library offered the first off-campus public-access terminal to the University of Illinois LCS online catalog. Ten years later it installed the first public- access terminal to Champaign County’s CCNet, and the same year began to offer public Internet access through Prairienet.

The library has been a participant in the Lincoln Trail Libraries System automation system and online public access catalog from its inception in 1981 with CLSI. The system migrated to Dynix in 1993, installed a major Dynix upgrade in 1998, and migrated to the company’s Horizon product in 2004. .  In 2011, Lincoln Trail Libraries System merged with three other systems to become Illinois Heartland Library System, with the eventual plan to merge their automation systems.  In December 2011, The Urbana Free Library and the Champaign Public Library left the LTLS automation system and migrated to a joint online CU Catalog utilizing the automation software of Polaris Library Systems.

The library has experienced all stages of the explosion in public use of computers, the Internet, and online resources, from the early days with just a few public Internet computers and a few electronic resources available on CD-ROM to the present, when it has over seventy-five public computers providing service in all departments and over fifty databases available in-house and remotely, and the circulation of downloadable materials.

The library’s Local History Online database went online in 2004, greatly expanding the library’s provision of its unique resources to any individual with Internet access.At the end of December 2011, Local History Online contained 623,593 documents and  3,515,132 indexing attributes. In March 2012, Local History Online migrated to a new platform, the Fusion digital collection software by Polaris Library Systems.

In 2006–2008, the library began to focus on telecommunications and infrastructure upgrades, including bandwidth adequacy, network structure and equipment, wireless hot-spot service, and efficient and consistent configuration of public computers through ghosting and volume licensing  The library moved from T1 to fiber access in September 2009 when the City of Urbana added a fiber optic line to connect the library to their facilities and the Illinois Century Network  (Urbana Free Library, Tech Plan).

This CU wiki entry began as a UIUC research project.  For more on that see Study of UC2B Anchor Institutions' Technology Use


External links it out blog) space blog) services blog) (Champaign County Historical Archives blog)