James Han

For the first time, Yale students will be able to check out books from the comfort of their own homes and have them mailed to their doorsteps — as far as 5,000 miles away from Yale’s libraries. 

In light of online learning, Yale libraries are debuting a service on Sept. 4 that will mail off-campus faculty, students and staff physical copies from Yale’s collections. From the online library catalogs — Orbis or Quicksearch — members of the Yale community will be able to fill out a form requesting that books be sent to them. The addresses must not be P.O. Boxes, and they must be in the United States, according to Director of Library Collections Services and Operations Christopher Killheffer. Books can later be returned by requesting a return label that will be paid for by the library. 

“I feel strongly that this is the right time for doing something like this,” Killheffer said. “It’s really important for people to be able to access library materials in order to do their research [and] to conduct their studies. So I’m excited that we’re able to launch these services to make that possible.”

Yale libraries also began sending books to residential colleges and other campus housing on Aug. 24 for students in residence on campus. In the first week of that program, the library received over 300 requests, according to the library’s Director of Communications and Marketing Patricia Carey.

While the program was initially intended to bring books to the students only for their initial quarantine, the library decided to extend the program to the entire semester because different groups of students could be quarantining at different times, Carey said.

Meanwhile, the mail-to-address service is also intended to be used by faculty and staff who live in the New Haven area but who do not want to physically visit the libraries, according to Killheffer. 

Off-campus students interviewed by the News gave mixed responses as to whether they would use the service. 

“The best part about [going to the library] was looking through the books in person,” said Kiran Masroor ’23, who is taking classes off campus in the New Haven area. She added that she really enjoyed “the experience of sifting through the books.”

Still, she said she might use the service occasionally, although less than she would have visited the library last year.

Danielle Castro ’23, who said she visited the University libraries nearly every day of her first year to study, said she was unlikely to use the mail-to-address service. Her main concern was obtaining textbooks, she said, and these she had already found outside the library.

However, she said she was open to using e-books from Yale’s libraries.

These programs are two of many services the library has in place to accommodate online learning and research. In addition to the physical item services, the University library is expanding the number of online books, according to Carey. 

“Overall, the University has really been prioritizing the response to the pandemic in terms of allocating resources in order to provide support based on this current situation,” Killheffer said. “This is a really important thing to a library to be making sure that our materials are accessible to everyone in the Yale community.”

The Yale collections include over 15 million items, according to the library website.

Giovanna Truong | giovanna.truong@yale.edu