Frequently Asked Questions

How long will the renovation take?

The library’s iconic building will undergo a major renovation following Yale University commencement ceremonies in May 2015. It will reopen when classes start in the fall of 2016.

Will researchers access the Beinecke’s collections during the renovation?

Yes. The library will operate a reading room in the Franke Family Reading Room in Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library, directly across Wall Street from the Beinecke. The temporary reading room will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nearly all of our collections will be available for study, though accessing some material could take longer than normal.  Researchers should allow the library’s Access Services Department as much time as possible, and at least 48 hours, to retrieve materials.

Anyone planning a trip to the Beinecke Library during the renovation should contact the library’s Access Services Department as early as possible to coordinate their research visit:

What is being renovated?

The bulk of the renovation work involves replacing the library’s 50-year-old mechanical infrastructure – its plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems. The building’s security and fire-suppression systems also will be upgraded. This work will ensure that the library can maintain the security and climate conditions crucial to protect and preserve its collections.

In addition, the project includes several elements that will enhance the library’s ability to share its collections with scholars, students, and the general public. It will double the number of classrooms from two to four, create four private consulting rooms for researchers off the reading room, and greatly expand space for the preparation of the library’s public exhibitions.

The library’s Technical Services Department, which is responsible for the cataloging, archival processing, digitization, and preservation of the library’s collections, will move to a new space on Winchester Avenue in New Haven. This will consolidate operations that currently function in four separate locations.

Will collection materials be available for teaching during the renovation?

Yes. The library will operate a temporary classroom in the Sterling Library’s International Room, which will allow Yale faculty members to incorporate collection materials into their classes.

How will the renovation improve students’ access to the Beinecke’s collections?

The two new classrooms, each about 600 square feet, will greatly expand undergraduate and graduate students’ access to collections materials for study and research.  Equipped with the latest audio-visual technology, the classrooms will be available for seminars, small lectures, fellows’ talks, conference meetings, and other events.  One of the new classrooms will be outfitted as a laboratory space to accommodate teaching and research on the book as artifact. 

The new classrooms will allow the library to maintain its two existing classrooms as a large lecture hall, providing space to host class visits by undergraduate lecture courses. This will introduce an important new audience of students to the Beinecke’s collections.

Additionally, the four new consulting rooms connected to the main reading room could accommodate small-group consultations between faculty and students, and library staff and students engaged in collections-related projects.

Where are all the books and manuscripts going?

The project requires the relocation of about 25,500 linear feet of collection material, or the equivalent of about 255,000 books. This includes the 180,000 volumes housed in the library’s six-story glass stack tower. About 12,000 linear feet, or the equivalent of about 120,000 books, will join collection material already housed at the Yale University Library Shelving Facility in Hamden, Conn.  The remaining 13,500 linear feet will be moved to safe areas in the library’s basement stacks.  A temporary heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system will keep the basement stacks at the proper climate for preservation throughout the project.

What will happen to the Gutenberg Bible?   

The Beinecke’s Gutenberg Bible – one of 21 complete copies known to exist – will be moved to the Yale University Art Gallery, where it will be displayed throughout the renovation. The Bible – the first substantial book in the western world printed from moveable type – will return to the Beinecke once the library building reopens.

Any changes to the building’s architecture?

No. The building’s marble panels, granite grid, and bronze fixtures will be restored, and the Noguchi Sculpture Garden will be refurbished and waterproofed, but the work will not change the building’s iconic architecture. Library staff is working closely with HBRA Architects and Yale University Facilities to fully preserve architect Gordon Bunshaft’s vision.