Gamze Kazakoglu, Contributing Photographer

Despite a difficult transition to online operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library attracted more viewers to its online academic events than it had to its in-person programs. 

Early in the pandemic, the Beinecke Library began producing recorded content to be published on its YouTube channel for asynchronous viewing. Online programming and events began in the spring and summer of 2020 and will continue up through 2021. 

“In total, we have produced 46 live online events — using Zoom webinars — 30 Mondays at Beinecke gallery talks and 16 other readings, panels, conversations and symposia,” Michael Morand, communications director of Beinecke Library, told the News. “These events have had more than 6,000 viewers live online over the course of the academic year; those that were recorded and published online had another 4,500 total views — in other words, total attendance, live and later online, for all events combined since September has surpassed 10,000 — and has surpassed our expectations and hopes!”

The Mondays at Beinecke gallery talk program has been in place for many years, offering informal talks almost every Monday at 4 p.m. during the academic year. When they were held in person in previous years, there would be around 30 attendants. However, due to the online format, the library was able to attract more students, faculty, New Haven community members and alumni to the events.

Beinecke Library produced 30 online installments of Mondays at Beinecke gallery talks this year, which have averaged more than 130 viewers live online. The online programming proved so popular that the library will continue to produce more live episodes this June. Morand said the library “expects that total attendance this year will approach 10,000 views, live and later online, across the year since September.” 

This year, the Mondays at Beinecke talks showcased and celebrated Black authors, artists, activists and collections. 17 of the 30 talks focused on work in the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters and seven others focused on other creators of color and their collections.

Additionally, Beinecke Library produced and published other online programs on its YouTube channel; the annual reading by student poets from Yale College, two programs by the Yale Collegium Musicum, the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence and Frederick Douglass Oration, a reading of a short play by Langston Hughes, a series of “Words for the Nation” with readings by Yale students and faculty of works in the collection and more can all be found here

This academic year, the Beinecke Library’s YouTube channel has totaled more than 118,000 views, an increase of 298 percent in views compared to the same period last year, according to Morand.

“The library has successfully navigated a challenging year and produced content that has been appreciated and engaged by campus and community audiences alike,” Morand said.

Beinecke Library has Mondays at Beinecke scheduled through June 2021.