July 1, 2015

New Look, New Times, New Leadership

A Recap of the 2015 Annual Members Meeting

Brand Launch and Organizational Highlights

The third Annual Members Meeting of the Chicago Collections Consortium took place on Tuesday, June 23, at The Newberry Library. Nearly 100 guests attended, including members of the Chicago Collections community and the public. It was a morning of celebration beginning with the launch of the organization’s new brand and website. The updated brand was designed in partnership with Jell Creative, a comprehensive branding and marketing firm based in Chicago (read more about the creative experts behind the new identity).

The new brand, including a vibrant new logo and refined vision, reflects the consortium’s successful evolution from a new nonprofit organization with great ambitions to a mature consortium with several major initiatives poised to launch in the next few months. “In the last two years, Chicago Collections has advanced significantly. We have welcomed new members, broadened our capabilities, and built a foundation from which to grow,” said Jaclyn Grahl, the consortium’s Executive Director. “The website and updated brand are reflections of our growth and emerging position as a leader in Chicago’s cultural landscape.”

The newly branded organization highlighted upcoming events beginning with its inaugural exhibition, “Raw Material: Uncovering Chicago’s Historical Collections,” set to open on August 7 at the Harold Washington Library Center in collaboration with Chicago Public Library. Later this fall, the organization’s cornerstone initiative, Explore Chicago Collections, an online portal to discover the history and culture of Chicago, will launch, becoming the central access point for online digital images and archival collections from its member institutions. Attendees of the Annual Meeting received an exclusive preview of the forthcoming portal.

“The timing of our new brand and website is perfect,” stated Mary Case, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at UIC, and (immediate past) Chair of the Board of Directors. “We are an evolving organization, and now with the momentum of a great new identity, an upcoming exhibit, and the launch of the portal, we are positioned to have the kind of impact we envisioned in the creation of Chicago Collections.”

Moving Forward and Special Guests

Following the brand launch and organizational highlights was a program with keynote speakers bringing attention to future possibilities for meaningful and innovative collaborations in support of Chicago-related collections and their use. The energy and stories that Carl Smith, Frank Valadez, and Lisa Oppenheim brought to the program provided enthusiasm and excitement for the rest of the day. Inducing much laughter from the audience, Smith opened with, "Chicago Collections, where were you ten years ago?” He also remarked, “This this is among the most promising cooperative ventures by Chicago institutions I've seen in my long academic career… it is truly a transformative project in the positive effect it will have on research and education." Smith and Oppenheim both offered questions and action steps for Chicago Collections to consider as the portal comes to fruition and as further programs are developed. A lively question-and-answer session where many voices were heard and ideas were exchanged concluded the program.

Passing the Torch

Marking another organizational milestone was the announcement that Mary Case, who has been at the helm of the consortium since its beginnings, would be stepping down. Case’s service was recognized with a rousing round of applause and a standing ovation signaling the great respect the community has had for her leadership. She will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and looks forward to her involvement with the organization in a new capacity.

Following the Members Meeting, the newly installed Board of Directors elected its officers for the coming year and named David Spadafora its new Chair. Along with Case, Spadafora, President and Librarian of The Newberry Library, was part of early conversations that led to the creation of Chicago Collections. “Everyone looks forward to David’s continued leadership and we know he will successfully guide us through the next stage of the organization’s development,” said Case. A complete list of Chicago Collections Board of Directors may be found here.


Finally, the dedication and hard work of the many individuals on Chicago Collections committees was recognized. The organization’s achievements are results of the incredible library and archive professionals who bring their passions, energy, and expertise together to collectively build something strong and meaningful for the entire community. A full list of Chicago Collections committees may be found here. If YOU would like to participate in one of these groups, please contact us and share more about your interests.

Exciting times are ahead for Chicago Collections and the whole community. Be sure to bookmark our new website and follow @ChiCollections for all the latest details. #TogetherChicago