Irving S. Gilmore Music Library celebrates 25 years at home in Sterling Library

  • Interior of brick space with four floors and steel arches and large windows and skylights. Wooden half-columns support mezzanine level with green shaded panels in railing
October 12, 2023

In September 1998, former University Librarian and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Music Librarian Kendall Crilly and library staff moved the Gilmore Music Library from its home in Sprague Memorial Hall—which it had occupied since 1917—into its current spectacular space in Sterling Memorial Library.

The move—of approximately 160,000 books, scores, recordings and other works from Sprague Hall and other shelving locations—took place over the course of a mere 24 hours and went off without a hitch. Library staff members were helping patrons the next day.

A Grand Opening celebration was held just weeks later, on Oct. 16. Alumni and former staff came from near and far to join in the celebration. Yale President Richard C. Levin spoke at the occasion, and an ensemble performed an original composition titled La gaya scienza: for brass quintet and timpani by Yale faculty composer Martin Bresnick.

This year, on Wed., Oct. 18, at 4 pm, the Music Library is again gathering faculty, alumni, and staff—this time, for the 25th anniversary celebration of its move into Sterling Library. Barbara Rockenbach, the Stephen F. Gates ’68 University Librarian, and guest speakers will share their memories and their thoughts about the history and importance of the library’s significant move. And, of course, there will be cake.

The new music library, with its vaulted ceilings and skylights, was constructed in what had been an open-air interior courtyard, adjacent to the Periodical Room. The library is named for Irving S. Gilmore, Class of 1923. Gilmore’s bequest significantly contributed to the completion of the 18-month-long construction of the inspirational space, designed by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, and Abbott of Boston.

—Deborah Cannarella

Photo by Patricia Carey