Regina Sung, Contributing Photographer

Bass Library is expected to reopen to students in the coming week following a monthlong closure due to flooding.

On Jan. 29, a frozen sprinkler line in the upper-level ceiling of the bilevel building burst, pouring water down to both levels of the library and filling the conduits of the electrical and internet cables beneath the floor. In response to extensive damage in the space, a disaster recovery company pumped out water and installed heaters, fans and dehumidifiers that ran for several days before the damage could be properly assessed. Damage incurred to the titles in the collection was minimal, with fewer than 750 books of the more than 65,000 housed in Bass impacted.

But the library will likely be back to normal soon — students are expected to be able to reserve study spaces in Bass starting on March 1 and borrow Bass media equipment starting on March 5.

“All of us working in Bass really miss seeing and interacting with students, but the impact of the closure has probably been less than in a ‘normal’ year,” wrote Katy Webb, director of Yale Library and Bass Library access services, in an email to the News. “When the flood happened, most students were still in quarantine. Since quarantine ended, we have had students studying in Sterling Library and other library spaces without any sign of overcrowding.”

Courtesy of Barbara Rockenbach

The damaged books were sent offsite for drying and repairs, and Webb noted that any titles beyond repair can “easily be replaced.”

Contractors are also currently at work replacing sections of ruined wallboard, ceiling and wood paneling as well as cleaning carpets and stonework. Some electrical wiring and data jacks also need to be replaced.

The degree of damage to facilities has led to some permanent changes in the facility design — like in its exterior walls and ceilings — to better protect the building’s pipes from freezing in the future.

The library was last renovated in the summer of 2019. The renovation expanded and reconfigured study space, improving natural light for the building’s two subterranean floors. Opening up additional study space also moved 89,000 books in its former 150,000 book collection to Sterling library.

John Clegg, director of building operations and security for the Yale Library, noted that the repairs have been “on track [for Bass] to reopen to students” by March 1, due to a rapid response from Yale Facilities.

“It’s already really hard to find good places to study, you know, given that we cannot go off campus and that library hours are very limited,” Maiya Hossain ’24, a first year currently on campus, said.

Come March, students should find the library back to normal with a few exceptions, Clegg said. For example, a replacement section of paneled wall on the lower level by the central staircase is currently being constructed for installation later in the semester.

Although on-campus students have been able to visit Sterling library following the end of Phase 2 of the initial arrival quarantine on Feb. 15, it has been closed on weekends and operating with limited weekday hours. Starting March 1, evening and weekend hours are scheduled to resume at both Sterling library and Bass. The new hours will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

“While my residential college library has been a great option so far, I was really looking forward to spending time in Bass and using its individual study rooms and benefitting from the change of scenery,” Hossain said. “I’m really looking forward to when it will be open, the sooner the better.”

Of the 15 libraries in the university system, Sterling Memorial Library, Bass Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, the Divinity Library, Haas Arts Library and Marx Science and Social Science Library are open to authorized users this semester.

Emily Tian | emily.tian@yale.edu

Amre Proman | amre.proman@yale.edu