Sterling Library Tours

To support our educational mission, our tour program prioritizes introducing new members of the Yale community to Sterling.
Students, Faculty, Postdocs, and Fellows
Tours are offered for Yale students, faculty, and post-docs and fellows during the academic year. We’ll introduce you to the building’s history and architecture along with relevant Yale Library services. Register for a scheduled tour.  
If the schedule doesn’t work for you, or if you have a special request (e.g. a tour for a specific class or discipline) fill out the tour request form. Please give us at least two weeks’ notice, and we will do our best to accommodate you!
General Public
We do not offer public tours, but you can enrich your self-guided visit by viewing this online exhibit about Sterling’s architecture. To learn more, download the 1931 Yale University Library Gazette
The first floor of Sterling—including the Nave, two exhibit galleries, and Selin Courtyard—is free and open to the public during business hours. (Yale ID is required after 6 pm and to enter the bookstacks and upper floors.) 
Non-Yale tour groups are not permitted in Sterling. 
Yale Staff

If your department or division would like a behind-the-scenes intro to Sterling, please fill out the tour request form. Please give us at least two weeks’ notice, and we will do our best to accommodate you!

Yale-affiliated Visitor Groups

Our ability to provide tours to Yale-sponsored or -hosted groups depends on staff availability and time of year. We may limit group size to avoid disrupting library patrons, especially at busy times of year. Please fill out the tour request form at least two weeks in advance of the requested date. More advance notice preferred.


No matter when you graduated, Sterling Library has evolved since you last napped in the L&B Room! When you’re on campus, we hope you’ll stop by to see what has (and hasn’t) changed. Alumni are always welcome to visit and explore the library at their own pace. Please stop by and relive fond memories or immerse yourself in the new features!

Learn more about the special Alumni services available at Yale Library.

Sterling Memorial Library Nave

About Sterling Library

In the heart of central campus, Sterling Memorial Library is Yale’s largest library and one of the University’s most iconic buildings. Completed in 1930, it houses more than 2.5 million volumes, with a focus on humanities and area studies, on 14 floors of book stacks. Designed by architect James Gamble Rogers (Yale Class of 1889) and later named for its benefactor, John William Sterling (Yale Class of 1864), the library is built in the Collegiate Gothic style to resemble a European cathedral. The main entrance, known as the Nave, has a 60-foot ceiling, cloisters, clerestory windows, side chapels, and a circulation desk altar. Stained glass windows throughout the building—3,300 in all—were designed by artist G. Owen Bonawit. Designed to be a “cathedral of learning,” Sterling is also home to the Gilmore Music Library, the Yale Film Archive, the Franke Family Digital Humanities Lab, and many reading rooms and study spaces.