A $20 million donation that came as part of the Yale Tomorrow Campaign will fund a redesign of the Sterling Memorial Library’s iconic atrium, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach told the News on Wednesday.
The gift, whose donor has thus far remained anonymous, was the product of “a few months” of discussion that concluded before June 30, the end of the five-year Yale Tomorrow Campaign, Reichenbach said. Library administrators said the gift would help restore the Library’s nave — the atrium patrons see upon entering the building that contains the circulation and reference desks — to its “original glory and grandeur” while increasing convenience for patrons.
The renovation is expected to be completed by January 2015, University Librarian Susan Gibbons said.
“It’s a wonderful gift to the Library and will greatly enhance the aesthetics and purposes of the nave area,” said Amanda Patrick, director of library development and communications.
Kendall Crilly MUS ’86 GRD ’92, associate University librarian, said library administrators would collaborate with architects to improve visitor flow, consolidate service desks and make self-serve checkout options available. He added that he renovated space will allow greater capabilities to house exhibits, information panels and interactive kiosks that would allow tourists to learn about the library..
In particular, the left side of the nave, which is currently occupied by empty card catalogue files, will see dramatic changes during the renovations. Most of the files will be removed for “programmatic needs,” Crilly said, adding that a small bit of the catalog may remain to commemorate the library’s history. Crilly added that he thinks the library will move the computers, which are right next to the nave, to the opposite wall and place service desks into the current computer space.
Gibbons said the renovation will allow the library to better serve the Yale community.
“We also want to take advantage of this opportunity to explore how the space can be better utilized to address the needs of the Yale community,” Gibbons added.
Though Gibbons said she and her staff are pleased with the renovation plans, the project will challenge the library’s staff since the restorations will require staff at service desks to temporarily relocate.. She said some exhibits, such as the small display cases near the circulation desk, may be relocated or decommissioned during the renovation.
Gibbons said the library hired Helpern Architects, an architecture firm based in New York, last month to lead the construction and planning of the restoration. The project will be completed in several phases to avoid creating large interruptions for workers and patrons, she said, adding that the architects and engineers will decide what will be restored first.
“The nave cannot be completely closed because it is the main artery to so much within Sterling,” Gibbons said. “So only portions of the nave will be under restoration at any given time.”
Helpern Architects previously worked with Yale on projects including the Betts House and Skinner-Trowbridge House renovations, and has completed projects for other universities, including Columbia University and New York University.