Yale Library reopens borrowing privileges to visitors and general public

  • A short blonde woman in pink, blue, yellow striped dress stands next to tall man with glasses wearing a striped green and yellow shirt and dark pants; they stand in front of the wooden circulation desk in Sterling. In the background behind Plexiglas shield woman with hair tied back in bun, glasses, and COVID mask types at a computer, standing
    Laura Sider, Barry McMurtrey, and Adrienne Gottlieb
October 20, 2022

After a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yale University Library has resumed offering broad library access and borrowing privileges to members of the community, independent researchers, and other non-Yale patrons.

“We are thrilled to have reached this important milestone in our return to pre-COVID levels of community access,” says Barbara Rockenbach, Stephen F. Gates ’68 University Librarian. “This change enhances the major steps taken earlier this year, which included reopening special collections to independent researchers and welcoming visitors to the public spaces in Sterling and the Beinecke Library exhibition galleries.” 

New Haven residents and other visitors can once again access Yale Library’s vast resources. With a free desk pass, they may request as many as 20 books from Sterling Memorial Library vast circulating collection and shelving facility for viewing on site.  With a paid account, they may browse for books in Sterling Memorial Library’s 7-story stack tower—15 floors of books— and gain onsite access to licensed electronic resources on select public computers in the Sterling Library nave. Different tiers of paid plans enable visitors to borrow as many as 60 books for up to 2 months. Optional, paid alumni services have also been added, including a new books-by-mail option introduced during the pandemic.

During the temporary shutdown, significant efforts were made not only to improve the library’s technology—patrons can now pay for services and/or privileges online—but also to expand the types of services offered to all eligible groups.

For Visitors

Visitors are always welcome to visit Sterling Library’s historic public spaces free of charge, and, after setting up a library account, may request up to 20 items for a free, one-week loan period.

Those visitors who wish to enter the stacks or borrow more books for a longer loan period can opt for one of several fee-based plans. These plans also offer onsite access to electronic resources at a small number of public computers.  Students, staff, and faculty with a valid ID from another university are offered these privileges free of charge. Read more about visitor privileges.

For Yale Alumni

Visiting Yale alumni have free access to the Sterling stacks, including staff-retrieval services of up to 20 items per day. They will also have free onsite access to electronic sources.

In addition, alumni can opt for one of several plans, which, for varying fees, will provide e-mail delivery of scans of book chapters and journal articles, Interlibrary Loan, Borrow Direct, Scan and Deliver, and Mail to Address services, and loans of up to 25 to 60 books for up to two months. Read more about the library’s alumni borrrowing programs.

For Faculty Spouses and Domestic Partners

Spouses of faculty members, staff members, and students are eligible for a Yale Library ID card and free library access and borrowing privileges. Those privileges include a book-loan period of 2 months for up to 50 books and 20 items from the Yale Film Archive. They also receive a NetID to access public computer terminals and have access to the Yale Secure network while on campus.

Yale recognizes opposite and same-sex marriages, civil unions, and legal state partnerships, regardless of the designation as “spouse.” After registering, with required documentation, at the circulation desk, domestic partners of Yale faculty members, staff members, and students may request up to 20 items to use onsite. For a small fee, they may borrow up to 50 items for up to 6 months, with the option to renew. Read more about spouse and domestic partner privileges.

For Yale Fellows

Outside researchers who hold a Yale fellowship appointment are eligible for full borrowing privileges at no charge for the duration of the fellowship. Those privileges include a book-loan period of up to two months for 50 books and 20 items from the Yale Film Archive. Fellows are also able to check out materials from any library within the Yale Library system. They also have onsite access to electronic resources. Read more about Yale Fellows privileges.

For Post-Docs and Visiting Scholars

Yale-employed Visiting Scholars, Researchers and Post-Doctoral appointments are eligible for free borrowing privileges. These users are eligible for Yale University ID cards, which allows them to borrow up to 300 or 500 books (depending on the scholar’s terms of appointment) and 20 items from the Yale Film Archive for up to 1 year. These users may also access Interlibrary Loan, Borrow Direct, Scan and Deliver, and Mail to Address services. They receive NetID access to public computer terminals. Read more about privileges for post-docs and visiting scholars.

For Yale-Sponsored Identities

Individuals who have valid business reasons for physical or electronic system access to Yale resources—and are not students, employees, contingent workers, faculty, or alumni—may also have access to resources and borrowing privileges, although terms vary. Those who qualify as sponsored identities may include volunteers, university visitors, and committee members.

Read more about privileges for Yale-sponsored identities.

Image: (from left) Laura Sider, associate director for Frontline Services; Barry McMurtrey, team leader for SML Services; and Adrienne Gottlieb, Front Line Services assistant

Story and photo: Deborah Cannarella