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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Introduction to William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Collection

An introduction to the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center's William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Collection

In 2001, the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center was the recipient of a gift from the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads (AAR).  This gift, the William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Collection, was originally part of multiple AAR technical libraries originally were part of several AAR technical libraries before they were collectively donated to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The collection consists of approximately 6,500 technical reports, books, and journal titles in the areas of railroad engineering, railroad technology, labor relations, and railroad history, including works published internationally. The collection also contains approximately 1,500 items originally owned by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The gift collection is named for William W. Hay (1908-1998), who was a professor of railway civil engineering at the University for more than 30 years. In addition to his contributions in railway engineering research, Professor Hay was a mentor and teacher to many students who made notable contributions in railroad engineering and operations. He is generally regarded as a leading academic figure in U.S. railroad engineering in the latter twentieth century, and his book Railroad Engineering remains a standard text on the subject.

The gift was arranged by Christopher P. L. Barkan, professor in the U of I Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and director of the AAR Affiliated Laboratory, and James Lundgren, a U of I alumnus who was a former student of William Hay’s and an assistant vice president at TTCI. An important contributing factor in the gift was a Web-based retrieval system that Grainger librarians began developing to improve access to Library holdings on railroad engineering topics. The suggestion to name the collection in Hay's honor came from Don Plotkin, another U of I alumnus and student of Hay’s, who at the time of donation was a program manager with FRA who assisted in arranging the gift.

Mary C. Schlembach, currently the Chemistry & Physical Sciences Librarian and an Associate Professor at the University Library and, at the time, the coordinator for the gift, expressed upon acquisition that with this donation,  "the Library now possesses one of the most outstanding railroad engineering collections in North America."

The image to the left depicts Professor Hay and is taken from the 2001 dedication of the acquisition of the Collection by the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center.