Librarians prepare to move books to Bass

As the Harry Potter-inspired opening of the Bass Library nears, Yale’s librarians are busy hammering out the details for the midnight ceremony that will introduce the renamed underground library to the student body.

The Oct. 19 ceremony will mark the beginning of the process of moving the library’s 250,000 volume collection into the renovated space. Over the next few weeks, library officials will finalize the list of speakers and plan how the remainder of the collection will be moved into the library after the opening. Library administrators said they hope the opening will spark enthusiasm for the Bass Library, formerly called Cross Campus Library. But some students said, no matter what its official name, undergraduates will still call the library “CCL.”

The renovated Cross Campus Library, renamed Bass Library after alum Robert Bass ’71 and wife Anne contributed $13 million, will be formally introduced to the student body Oct. 19.
Margaret Katcher
The renovated Cross Campus Library, renamed Bass Library after alum Robert Bass ’71 and wife Anne contributed $13 million, will be formally introduced to the student body Oct. 19.

Changing the library’s name will take some time, Associate University Librarian Danuta Nitecki said. The process includes updating University Web sites and online catalogs as well as relabeling all the CCL books, she said.

“We are just beginning to put our heads around all that we can do,” Nitecki said. “It can’t all be done immediately … but we’re looking forward to engaging and doing that.”

The opening ceremony will begin around 11 p.m. on Oct. 18. The night will feature music and refreshments from the library’s sustainable food cafe, as well as short speeches by faculty and staff.

In line with Yale tradition, the ceremony will include a procession of people who will move the first books into the Bass Library, Nitecki said. The tradition was originally inspired by a carving in Sterling Memorial Library depicting five clergymen donating books at Yale’s founding.

“With that kind of a background, we certainly should continue that tradition,” she said.

In the nine days following the opening, the rest of the library’s collection will be moved into its new home. For students’ convenience, the moving will occur mostly from 12 a.m. until 10 a.m. when the library is not in use, Nitecki said.

“We’re trying not to disrupt students that much but still have the collection available during the day,” she said.

Logistics aside, the library staff still faces the challenge of re-branding the library. Some students said Yalies will be unlikely to change their habit of calling the library “CCL” just because administrators have changed its name.

Years after the Department of University Health was renamed University Health Services, for example, students interviewed still widely refer to the student clinic as “DUH,” they said.

“That place is CCL for sure,” Alex Afsahi ’09 said. “I will never call it Bass Library. The whole naming thing is laughable.”

But freshmen and sophomores who never worked in CCL may be more amenable to using the facility’s new name, students and administrators said.

“Being closed for a year, only the juniors and seniors among the undergraduate population will remember [CCL],” Nitecki said. “We already have the freshman class and the sophomore class among the undergraduates who should think of this as the Bass Library, so the younger generation will have to correct the older one.”

Robert Bass ’71 and his wife Anne Bass pledged $13 million for the renovation of Cross Campus Library, attracting more than $20 million in matched gifts. University President Richard Levin said the administration decided to rename the library in recognition of the Basses when they agreed to make the gift three years ago.

Although he said he is excited about the opening ceremony, Levin will not be one of the speakers at the event.

“I usually confine my attendance at midnight events to the [Yale Symphony Orchestra] Halloween show,” he said.

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