Library special collections will welcome non-Yale researchers beginning April 11

  • Seated woman with dark hair and glasses peruses old book resting in a mount on the table in front of her. Other special collection materials, boxes, papers an an open laptop are spread across the tabletop.
April 4, 2022

Beginning April 11, Yale University Library will reopen its special collections reading rooms to non-Yale researchers who are fully vaccinated and boosted and have not traveled outside the U.S. within the prior 15 days. Researchers will be required to register in the Yale Library special collections system, complete the University vaccine attestation process in advance of their visit, and show a copy of their approval email for admission to the library on the day of their visit. Plan your visit

The Yale Center for British Art’s Reference Library and Study Room will re-open to non-Yale researchers on Tuesday, April 12, using the Yale Library registration system and following the same procedures. Also on April 11, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library will expand the public opening hours for the exhibition hall to weekdays as well as weekends.

We are thrilled to be able to welcome back researchers and other visitors from New Haven and beyond beginning April 11,” says Michelle Light, director of the Beinecke Library and associate university librarian for special collections. “Yale Library collections represent a unique and extraordinary record of human creativity and history. Making these materials as broadly accessible as possible is central to our mission of service to scholarship and community.”  

Beinecke Library is the center of special collections at Yale Library with collections ranging from ancient Egyptian papyri and medieval manuscripts to the archived personal papers of contemporary writers, artist books, photographs, audio-visual recordings, and born-digital materials. Yale Library’s special collections additionally encompass the Manuscripts and Archives repository and reading room in Sterling Memorial Library; the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Conn.; and discipline-specific collections and reading rooms at the the Divinity Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Gilmore Music Library, and Haas Family Arts Library. 

Before the pandemic, Yale Library saw an average of 14,000 visits to special collections reading rooms per year, half of which were by visitors from beyond Yale. Also pre-COVID, Beinecke Library hosted more than 100,000 visits a year to its public exhibition hall by New Haven neighbors and campus visitors. When non-Yale visitors were restricted as part of Yale’s COVID response, library staff worked to expand online access to special collections by accelerating digitization of collection materials. Over the course of the pandemic, more than 250,000 collection images have been added to the library’s digital collections 

The pandemic spurred Yale librarians, archivists and other library staff to find new, innovative ways to make library collections more broadly accessible. These have included developing more than 50 new online exhibits, transforming the Beinecke’s entrance-level plate glass windows into a platform for collection images, putting library events online and opening them up to a global audience, and expanding collection-related video content on YouTube channels for the Beinecke Library, Yale, and  Yale Library.

“Throughout the pandemic, library staff have made extraordinary efforts to serve and support all of our communities and constituents,” says Barbara Rockenbach, Stephen F. Gates ’68 University Librarian. “I am profoundly grateful for their commitment and creativity.”  

Under current University visitor guidelines, Yale Library spaces and buildings beyond special collections are still restricted to Yale faculty, staff, and students only. Any future changes in these access policies will be announced on Yale Library’s COVID-19 update page when they are decided.

Visit the Beinecke website to see expanded exhibit hall hours (beginning April 11) and information about current exhibitions. See all library locations and hours.

—By Patricia Carey