At midnight on Oct. 19, after fifteen months of anxious waiting, students, faculty and staff will be able to celebrate the much-anticipated opening of a completely revamped — and renamed — underground library.
Inspired by the launch of books in the Harry Potter series, the midnight opening of the Bass Library — formerly Cross Campus Library — will feature snacks from the library’s new sustainable cafe and short speeches by library staff and donors. The library will be officially renamed after notable University benefactor Robert Bass ’71 and his wife, Anne, who gave $13 million to match other gifts for the renovation during a ceremony in late November.
University Librarian Alice Prochaska said the idea for a midnight opening was conceived by Associate Librarian Danuta Nitecki, who was inspired by the hype surrounding the release of the Harry Potter series.
“She was rather intrigued by all the excitement of the release of the latest Harry Potter book at midnight,” Prochaska said.
The night’s festivities will be capped by a procession of students and staff carrying the first books into the new library, in accordance with Yale library tradition, Prochaska said.
Bass, whose brother Edward Bass ’68 sits on the Yale Corporation, has also given money for the renovation of Berkeley College and to support the Bass Writing Program, which places writing tutors in every residential college. As one of the nation’s wealthiest families, the Basses, including brothers Robert, Edward, Sid Bass ’65 and Lee Bass ’79 and late father Perry Bass ’37, have been very closely involved with their alma mater over the past several decades.
“Robert and Anne Bass have been among Yale’s most generous donors,” University President Richard Levin said in an e-mail. The Bass gift attracted more than $20 million in matched gifts from other donors, Levin said.
One of those donors was William Wright ’82, who gave $1 million of his own money to fund a new reading room. Wright said he will be present at the midnight gathering.
“I am very excited about this,” Wright said. “I’m very excited to be there on the nineteenth and see everything go live, if you will.”
The Wright Reading Room will be located between Sterling Memorial Library and Bass Library, and Wright said it will serve as a transition between the neo-Gothic architecture of SML and the more modern Bass facilities. Although he was not involved in the design of the room, he said its more intimate feel was inspired by his own undergraduate experience at Yale.
“One of my favorite places at the University was the [Linonia and Brothers] room,” he said. “The Wright Reading Room is really a … modern interpretation of that idea.”
Wright said he has been invited by Levin and Prochaska to speak at the dedication in late November.
Several students interviewed said they would probably not attend the library’s opening festivities, but are looking forward to seeing the library completed.
“I’m excited to see what it’ll look like now that it’s new,” Dylan Stern ’08 said. “I’m psyched to see it because of all the buildup.”
But both Stern and Rico Rodriguez ’10 said their study habits will not change once Bass Library opens.
“I probably am more inclined to study in a residential college library,” Rodriguez, who is in Ezra Stiles, said. “I don’t really feel like making the trek out to CCL.”
Cross Campus Library first opened in 1971.