Founders Day Open House: Exploring the Treasures of the Yale Library

In tandem with Founders Day festivities on Cross Campus, the Yale University Library hosted an open house in Sterling Memorial Library yesterday that featured 24 exhibits and 520 library staff from 15 different libraries.

Titled “Exploring the Treasures of the Yale Library,” the event highlighted various library resources available to the Yale community, including online databases and personal librarians. As a special memento of the day’s events, visitors were able to print out a special piece for Founders Day from an approximately 200-year-old bibliographic press.

Although the annual Library Open House has been held for several years, the Wednesday event marked the first time that a library open house was held in conjunction with Founders Day.

“We decided to go … hard on Founder’s Day and open it to the public,” said Amanda Patrick, director of communications for Yale University Library. “It would be an opportunity for people to come in and get a glimpse of some of the diverse programs that the library is doing,”

Patrick said the Library Open House started as a joint conference for library staff from all of the 15 libraries of the Yale University Library system, including the Arts Library and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The event was intended to provide a platform for library employees to share their work with fellow librarians from other parts of the library system, Patrick added. The exhibition opened up to the entire Yale community last year, and starting this year, it was geared toward the public.

The exhibits fully represented the variety of collections and services at Yale libraries, said Jenn Nolte, emerging digital services analyst and chair of library staff appreciation and recognition committee. She added that some of the exhibits, such as those of the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library and the Center for Science and Social Science Information, were used as an outreach effort to inform social science and medical students of the resources available at the two libraries.

Other exhibits include displays of year-long library projects, such as the Edward Salisbury, class of 1832, biographical exhibit, which honored the life and works of the first professor of Sanskrit and Arabic at Yale, Nolte said.

Many of the booths highlighted digital components, such as a media wall exhibit and virtual library resources including online publications and databases. One exhibit in particular was centered around Yale Quicksearch, a search engine that integrates the Law Library catalog, the main library catalog, licensed electronic resources and a portion of the Digital Collections. In the past, users had to visit each library’s website and use its own search engine separately.

“[It’s a] new unified, discovery service that rolled out last year,” Nolte said. She added that a “good portion” of the Library System’s spending is allocated to Quicksearch and other online resources and that the new integrated search engine will continue to expand and include more library resources in the future.

The push for increased virtual sources is part of the Yale University Library’s effort to make its resources more “immediate and up to date,” Nolte added.

Nolte said last year’s open house was held during spring break, which led to a lower student turnout than what the organizers expected, adding that the Wednesday exhibition was more popular than before.

Holding the event on Founders Day allowed the library staff to capitalize on the traffic on Cross Campus generated by the festivities and free food, Patrick said.

Wednesday’s festivities on Cross Campus featured music and booths offering fresh pasta and pumpkin spice cupcakes catered by Yale Dining. Some students found their way to the library open house in the midst of all the celebration.

“I came to Founders Day for the food and stayed for the people,” Griffin Smilow ’18 said.

In light of the improved turnout this year, both Nolte and Patrick said Yale Library will continue to hold open houses on Founders Day.

“We have 520 staff who have expertise in many subject areas and I think that people forget that they’re there for them,” Patrick said. “So that’s what today was all about.”

Peter Chung contributed reporting.