Bass Library

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Coordinates: 41°18′38″N 72°55′39″W / 41.31065°N 72.9276°W / 41.31065; -72.9276

The Anne T. & Robert M. Bass Library, formerly Cross Campus Library, is a Yale University Library building holding frequently-used materials in the humanities and social sciences. Located underneath Yale University's Cross Campus, it was completed in 1971 in a minimalist-functionalist style designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes. In 2007, Thomas Beeby led a multimillion-dollar renovation of the library that extensively reconfigured and refurbished its interior space.

In addition to its book collection, Bass contains many reading and studying spaces, a large computer lab, and an area for books held in reserve.


In 1967, an extension of Sterling Memorial Library was proposed to expand the library's space for collections.[1] Though originally proposed to house the library's East Asian collection and Yale memorabilia, librarians decided instead to utilize the new space to improve access to frequently-used materials and reserve books.[1][2] So as not to interrupt the view of the Sterling facade from the east, the library would be constructed beneath the lawn of Cross Campus, the central axis of Yale's campus. To allow for sufficient light underground, architect Edward Larrabee Barnes proposed to sink sixteen skylights into the Cross Campus lawn. When the design was made public in 1968, Yale students and faculty, including Vincent Scully, protested that the skylights would obstruct the lawn's open space, and students physically blocked early construction activities.[2][3][4] Barnes and the university withdrew the original design and instead configured a lighting scheme with four large entrance light wells at the corners of Cross Campus.[5][6] The new library, opened in January 1971 at a cost of $4 million, housed 300,000 volumes and remained open 24 hours a day.[6][7]

Although the protestors' concerns were addressed in the redesign, reception of the new Cross Campus Library was generally poor. The underground location posed significant structural and architectural challenges to the facility: the sod-covered roof persistently leaked, and the light wells let in little natural light.[2] Students described its functional aesthetic and fluorescent lighting as "antiseptic."[8][9]

In 2004, Yale announced a major renovation of Cross Campus Library.[10] The two-year, US$47.8 million project, led by Thomas Beeby, was completed in October 2007.[2][11] The library was renamed Bass Library after the renovation's lead donors, Anne and Robert Bass.

Yale announced plans for another renovation in 2019, reducing the collection by transferring over 100,000 volumes, including many older, rarely used, or duplicate titles, to the adjacent Sterling Memorial Library, leaving Bass Library with a collection of approximately 40,000 volumes. The seating capacity was to be expanded from 365 to 470 in order better accommodate Yale's growing student body.[12] After student protests, a revised plan was announced with 61,000 books to be retained in Bass library and an accelerated completion timeline to have the library available to students for the fall 2019 semester.[13]


The library has two subterranean floors totaling 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) which can be accessed from Cross Campus or Sterling Memorial Library.[14] The 2007 renovation by HBRA Architects, intended to harmonize the library's interiors with those of surrounding Gothic Revival buildings, refurbished the building with stone floors, steel mullions and wood-panelled shelves and interior walls.[2][15] Kent Bloomer, a Yale School of Architecture professor, designed ornament for the Cross Campus entrances, which references Gothic elements of Sterling Memorial Library.[16][17]

The library is noted on campus for its "weenie bins," small cubicles available for private study.[2][18]


The library holds approximately 150,000 books, and had held 50,000 more before its renovation.[2][19] In 2008, the Yale College Council debuted a DVD film collection to be housed in Bass for student use.[20] The library also loans digital media equipment to library affiliates, including DSLR cameras, audio equipment, lighting kits, and Google Glass.[21][22][23]


  1. ^ a b "Library Plans Expansion". Yale Daily News. 7 March 1967. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Alden Branch, Mark (January 2008). "This is CCL?". Yale Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  3. ^ Bates, Timothy (26 April 1968). "Architect Says Students Deserve Voice in Plans". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  4. ^ Whiteman, Bart (26 November 2005). "Yale University: Spring of 1970". The Chattanoogan. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  5. ^ Nath, Robert (7 May 1968). "Barnes Rules Out Library Skylights". Yale Daily News. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b Anderson, Tom (13 March 1969). "Underground SML proposed". Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Underground Library Opens". Yale Daily News. 25 January 1971. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Cross Campus Library". Yale Daily News. 22 February 1971. p. 4. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  9. ^ Fraerman, Jim (15 October 1976). "The Changing Yale Building: Monumentality to Functionalism". Yale Daily News. p. 6. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  10. ^ Sullivan, Tom (26 February 2004). "CCL Primes To Renovate". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  11. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (19 October 2007). "Library Opens at Midnight". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  12. ^ "Smaller, more vibrant collection planned for renovated Bass Library". 3 February 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  13. ^ Yaffe-Bellany, David; Stern, Jacob (April 21, 2019). "Yale students aren't ready to close the book on the school's libraries just yet". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  14. ^ "Bass Library". HBRA Architects. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  15. ^ "The Bass Library Grand Opening" (PDF). Nota Bene. 22 (2). Fall 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  16. ^ Needham, Paul (29 September 2009). "Professor Adds Decorative Touch To Yale Campus". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Bass Library, Yale University". Kent Bloomer Studio. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  18. ^ Arnsdorf, Isaac (April 23, 2011). "Weenie Bin C62F". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  19. ^ Prochaska, Alice (2008). "Annual Report of the Librarian, 2007–2008" (PDF). Yale University Library. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  20. ^ Abrahamson, Zach (26 February 2008). "DVD library votes: From Mulan to Mean Girls". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  21. ^ Hsin, Carol (19 October 2010). "High tech gear available at Bass". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  22. ^ "Bass media equipment check-out service expanded". Yale News. Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communications. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  23. ^ Buckingham, Amanda (7 March 2014). "Google Glass comes to Bass". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 2 May 2014.

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