Students returned to campus this fall to find a new arrangement of flowers, tables and chairs adorning Beinecke Plaza just beneath the library building, creating a new space for socialization, studying and relaxation.

The seating area, with its blue, green, coral and brown metal tables and chairs, is set up under the south side of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library just after 8 a.m. and taken down just before 5 p.m. on weekdays, according to Beinecke Communications Director Michael Morand. On weekends, it is set up at noon and taken down at about 5 p.m. Yale students, New Haven locals and other visitors occupy the area during the daytime.

“The chairs encourage neighbors and visitors to linger a while,” Morand said. “The numbers of people going to the library has been strong since reopening last September and the seating area is a nice amenity for regular and occasional visitors alike.”

Stella Xu ’21 said she often does schoolwork in the area after her Monday economics lecture in the adjacent Sterling Law Building. She prefers to do her work in the sunken plaza setting rather than in a library, as it is uncrowded and somewhat secluded without being entirely noise-free.

Xu also pointed to the surrounding art and architecture, particularly Beinecke Library itself, Alexander Calder’s “Gallows and Lollipops” sculpture in Hewitt Memorial Quadrangle and the open layout of the area, as reasons for preferring the spot.

“Sometimes I feel like libraries are way too quiet,” Xu said. “I like how [outside of Beinecke Library] you can hear people talking and going on with their daily lives. The [nearby] construction can be distracting, but it’s better than the dead silence of the library.”

Justina Lizikeviciute, who recently moved from Lithuania and will be staying in New Haven for six months, said she visited the seating area Monday after buying a cup of coffee.

Having been in New Haven for only a week, Lizikeviciute said she uses Beinecke Plaza as a spot to relax in between events or lectures, given its central location.

Min Luo, the spouse of a post-doctoral scholar, said she stopped by the spot for the first time Monday afternoon to wait for a 4 p.m. class at the Law School and enjoy the nice weather.

“It’s quiet and the sunshine here is nice,” Luo said. “I was in a building before this and it was so cold.”

According to Morand, the library has provided seasonal outdoor seating in the past, but it was paused during the 2015-16 renovations to the library. The current setup will remain throughout this season, weather permitting, and will make its return in the spring and summer next year and in years beyond, Morand added.

“It’s great to see the area enjoyed by neighbors on campus, around New Haven and visitors from afar,” he said.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is home to more than 500,000 volumes.

Asha Prihar

Asha Prihar served as managing editor of the News during the 2019-20 academic year. Before that, she covered community service, Yale's professional schools and undergraduate student life as a staff reporter. She is a senior in Silliman College studying political science.