Library Walking Tour introduces new students to Yale’s many libraries, collections, and services

  • Blonde woman with large glasses and white blouse leans on counter, smiling at camera. Student with dark hair and wire-rim glasses stands on other side of counter holding large yellow cardboard key that reads "Bass" at top
September 14, 2023

As part of this academic year’s orientation program, incoming Yale College students were invited to participate in the Camp Yale Library Walking Tour. The program, sponsored by Bass Library, was designed to help incoming students learn about the many libraries in the Yale Library system—and in the process earn the chance to win a highly desirable prize: a private study room of their own for the fall semester.

The tours and raffle

Participating students could choose one of two tour options: a walking tour or a self-guided tour.

The one-hour walking tour began at Ingall’s Rink on Sachem Street. Students were directed to six libraries across campus: Bass Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Marx Science and Social Science Library, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, and Sterling Memorial Library. They learned about these libraries’ collections, the various study spaces available in each, and the librarians who can support their academic work. Staff members and library peer mentors joined the tours to share their expertise and insights.

Students who chose to take a self-guided tour carried a tour booklet that contained library descriptions and a detailed map. Copies of the booklets were available for pickup at the Yale College Dean’s Office and at the service desks at Sterling and Bass libraries during the student-move-in period.

Those students who visited at least six of the libraries on the self-guided tour—and collected booklet stickers at each location—were entered into the raffle for the prize. Students on the in-person tour were automatically entered.

The prize? The keys to an individual study room in Bass Library for the entire fall semester.

The winner? Samson Wong, Morse College, Class of 2027.

“All the libraries I visited were amazing, and the people working there were so kind and helpful,” Wong said. “I could not be more thrilled to have access to this study space for the fall semester. I’ll be spending countless hours at Bass Library now.”

Wong, who is from Vestal, New York, is interested in studying in the programs of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; and History of Science and Medicine.

Participating staff 

Kelly Marie Blanchat, Undergraduate Teaching and Outreach Librarian, created the initial tour concept. “Our students at Yale have access to so many library resources and spaces, but figuring out where all the libraries are all located could take a busy undergraduate student all year, or longer! I created this tour to help unpack some of that difficult wayfinding so that students can start using Yale’s libraries sooner,” Blanchat said.

“This tour also gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of students at once and answer their questions about textbooks, research services, librarians, and library spaces,” she added. “It was really a win-win —especially for Samson, our actual winner.”

In the program planning and development, Blanchat worked closely with Sid Hirschman, Rollins Fellow at the Office of the University Printer, and Katy Webb, director of Yale Access Services and Bass Library. Participating library staff members included Basie Gitlin, Yale Library Director of Development; Emily Horning, director of Undergraduate Teaching and Outreach; Lia Sancoucy, library services assistant for Beinecke Library; and library peer mentors David Donnan (YC ’24) and Isabelle Staco (YC ’25).

“I was delighted to talk with so many students excited to learn about the extraordinary libraries that they now have the great good fortune to call their own,” said Gitlin, one of the staff members who joined the walking tour. “Their enthusiasm was contagious!”

—Deborah Cannarella

Image: Librarian Kelly Blanchat presents Samson Wong ’27 with the “key” to a private study space in Bass Library. Photo by Katy Webb.