The administration has spoken: Call it “Bass,” please.
But as students streamed into the newly renovated Bass Library at the stroke of midnight Friday morning, they chanted “CCL” — the abbreviation for “Cross Campus Library,” Bass’ former name. Administrators fear students will be reluctant to give up that oft-uttered acronym, even as Yale officials hope otherwise.
At its opening last week and in the library Sunday, students interviewed agreed that the new Bass Library was an indisputable improvement over the old Cross Campus Library. But they said they had less enthusiasm about the underground haunt’s new name, which was chosen in honor of prominent Yale donor Robert Bass ’71 and his wife, Anne, who gave $13 million to help fund the renovations.
“It will never be ‘Bass,’ ” Greta Fails ’08 said before the library’s midnight opening. To Fails and to other students, she said, “It will always be CCL.”
More than two decades ago, the University changed the name of its health facility from the Department of University Health — DUH, in undergraduate parlance — to today’s University Health Services. Yet DUH lives on in students’ lexicon, which has administrators wondering whether the new Bass Library will go the way of UHS.
University officials said they hope not. After all, they are sure enough about the name change to undertake the nearly Herculean effort of changing the labels on the nearly 167,000 volumes in Bass’ collection.
Before the library’s opening, University Librarian Alice Prochaska said she was asked a question that many in the crowd were debating: What do students call it?
“Bass,” she said. No acronym — not TBL, for the Bass Library, or BL, for the study space’s official name, Bass Library.
“It’s just ‘Bass’,” Prochaska said.
That might be an easier sell for Yale freshmen and sophomores, none of whom ever had the chance to experience the sterile, fluorescent underground world of CCL. Herein lies t he trick, administrators said: If Yale’s underclassmen can be convinced to call the library by its proper name, future classes will follow in their footsteps.
“Being closed for a year, only the juniors and seniors among the undergraduate population will remember [CCL],” Associate University Librarian Danuta Nitecki told the News earlier this month. “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.”
Contrary to rumors circulating among students, the old Cross Campus Library — and, above it, the Cross Campus itself — was not named after Wilbur Cross 1885 GRD 1889, the first dean of the Yale Graduate School and a four-term governor of Connecticut. Wilbur Cross is the namesake of the heavily traveled Wilbur Cross Parkway and New Haven’s largest high school, Wilbur Cross High School. The graduate school’s highest alumni award, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, is also named after Cross.
But Cross Campus is not. The name was a geographic designation that dates back to architect James Gamble Rogers’ master plan for the University, crafted in 1921.
Still, old habits do not change easily. Entering the new library Sunday afternoon, Jianye Lu GRD ’09 said there was no doubt what he would call the library from now on.
“CCL … what else would it be?” he said. “I’ve just gotten used to CCL. I can’t think of anything else.”
After all, the library is underneath Cross Campus, he said — it would not make sense to call it anything else.
But to one sophomore, respecting Bass’ generosity outweighed any desire to pay homage to CCL — perhaps proving Yale officials’ theory that younger students are the most likely to adapt to the name change.
“I would call it the Bass Library,” Genet Tekeste ’10 said after leaving the library Sunday. “I guess people will call it what they want, but I’m going to call it Bass,” she said. “They gave so much money — I don’t think it would be right not to.”
While students debate its name, Bass is beginning to look more and more like a library as its shelves slowly fill up with books. Over the next week, crews will continue to work each night moving Bass’ collection from its temporary home in Sterling Memorial Library to the new stacks in Bass, library officials said.
Meanwhile, the library’s long-awaited cafe — which will be operated by the Yale Sustainable Food Project — is scheduled to open Tuesday morning, according to Yale Dining Services.
—Nicolas Niarchos contributed reporting.