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Reimagining Bass Library: FAQ

A site to discuss the upcoming transitions planned for the Bass Library.

Library News

FAQ: Bass Library Renovation Project

The library will add questions as the community continues to give us feedback about the upcoming renovation project. The first set of questions came from feedback at the Community Presentation on 1/23/2019.

Create Date: 2/1/2019 / Date Last Updated: 2/6/2019

  1. Why is Bass Library being renovated? Since its opening in 2007, Bass Library has been a popular study space for students. Now, with the growth of the undergraduate population, Bass is increasingly crowded, especially during midterms, reading period, finals, and other intensive study periods. We are renovating the space to make sure we can accommodate students’ desire to study there.
  2. Why are you moving a significant portion of the Bass Library collection? We are re-evaluating and reducing the collection held in Bass to create a more engaging collection as well as make room for more study space for the larger undergraduate population. Ample study space is a high priority because we want to make sure students continue to be exposed to our services, helpful staff, and collections. As we reduce the size of the collection, we are also re-evaluating and updating it to make it more engaging and relevant to today’s students and more closely aligned with today’s curriculum. Based on our collection analysis so far, a significant part of the reduction will involve removing duplicate copies and items that have been on the shelves for years with little or no use. The current Bass Collection includes two or more copies of nearly 40,000 items. The books we remove will be relocated to the stacks in Sterling Memorial Library (SML), still readily accessible to students. A project is currently underway to update the SML stacks to make them easier to navigate. The library’s paging service will continue to be available for all materials, including any materials relocated after the renovation.
  3. Will there still be a collection for browsing in Bass after the renovation? Yes. In response to feedback from the community, we are now anticipating that about 50,000 volumes will be physically located in Bass after the renovation (UPDATE: We are still working with the architects to increase the number of volumes - 50,000 is the minimum, we anticipate that it will be higher as we finalize the plans with the architects). The current collection will be re-evaluated and curated, making it more up-to-date and more directly connected to the undergraduate curriculum. We are committed to providing a rich, diverse, and current array of high-use titles across the disciplines, with an emphasis on the humanities, including titles requested or recommended by faculty. With the exceptions mentioned elsewhere in this FAQ (small Display Collections, graphic novels, the Model Research Collection, and Course Reserves) the Bass Collection will be consolidated on the lower level of Bass for greater ease of use. Less used but still relevant volumes from the current collection will be shelved in the Sterling Memorial Library stacks, still readily accessible to students.
  4. What is the Display Collection? The Display Collection refers to a Bass Library program introduced in February 2018 in which a small number of titles related to a chosen theme is displayed near the entrance from Thain Cafe and feedback is solicited from library users, creating an ongoing conversation about the theme. This year, our Display Collection included the Reading Resilience Project, Women’s History Month, The Good Place (highlighting philosophy), National Poetry Month, Yale Alumni, LGBTQAI, Photography, and Banned Books Week. Post-renovation, these small, frequently changing collections will be displayed on high-visibility shelving specifically designed to facilitate browsing, commenting, and suggesting related titles. The Display Collection is one of several library initiatives to connect students with our print collections.
  5. Will the graphic novel collection remain in Bass Library? Graphic novels will remain one of the core areas of the Bass Collection. Leading up to the renovation, the existing graphic novel collection will be re-evaluated along with the rest of the Bass Collection. Older titles with low use will be transferred to the Sterling Memorial Library stack tower, while titles core to the genre and/or frequently used will remain on the upper level of the Bass Library.
  6. What is the Model Research Collection? The Model Research Collection is another initiative to increase student engagement with the Bass Collection. This will be a small-scale collection created in collaboration with faculty and students to show the breadth and depth of a specific subject area. The Model Research Collection will bring together relevant resources from across the Yale library system. It will be physically located on the upper level of the Bass Library and changed each academic year. Non-physical resources and/or items that cannot be displayed in Bass, such as special collections, will be represented through digital display. New titles may be added over the course of the academic year. Subject specialist librarians and other library staff will work with the faculty and student partners on selecting, acquiring, describing, and making accessible new library resources for the Model Research Collection, and there will be opportunities for related programming, such as book talks and symposia.
  7. How will Course Reserves be changing after the Bass renovation? Currently in Bass, we offer the option of Open or Closed Reserves for class materials. About half of the materials currently on reserve are Closed. Post-renovation, our standard reserve option will be Closed, which is in line with what is already being done in other Yale libraries.
  8. What is the difference between Closed and Open Reserves? Closed Reserves are materials selected by a faculty member for class use and set aside behind the desk. Students presenting a Yale ID can access these materials for use within the library for a defined period of time. Open Reserves are also selected by faculty for class use, but these materials are placed on open shelves where students can browse at will. Since Open Reserve materials are on the open shelves, they do not need to be checked out to be used. Therefore, we have no way to track Open Reserve materials that go missing or are removed from the shelves for an extended time without being checked out.
  9. What problem is the library trying to solve with a move towards only Closed Reserves? One of the major issues with Open Reserve is that we cannot assess how the materials are being used, so we don’t know if we need to replace missing materials or purchase additional copies because of heavy use. About half of our reserves are already closed. Making Closed Reserve our standard practice will make reserve materials more accessible to all the students who rely on them. We will be able to track usage and recognize quickly if we need to obtain additional copies. If a faculty member wants to ensure that all students in a class will have access to printed material, Closed Reserves is the only way that the library can help to facilitate that.
  10. As a faculty member, I still want my reserve materials to be available in the stacks. Will this be possible? Yes. Although we are changing our standard practice to Closed Reserve, we will continue to provide an Open Reserve option to faculty who believe having the material in the stacks is important to their students. In those cases, we will also purchase an additional copy of the material to keep on Closed Reserve, in case the item in the stacks is unavailable.
  11. How can I recommend titles for the Bass Collection? We welcome faculty requests and recommendations for the refreshed, post-renovation collection, and will be setting up a process for that. In the meantime, please share suggestions with your subject or department liaison librarian. You can share individual titles, reading lists from your syllabi, or lists generated from our library discovery systems, Quicksearch or Orbis. Additionally, you can always request materials for Course Reserves and indicate you would like a copy on the Open Reserves stacks which would add a circulating copy of the item to the Bass Collection.
  12. Why isn’t Yale considering other spaces on campus to expand study spaces for undergraduates? As librarians, we feel strongly that we should have sufficient, suitable space to accommodate students who wish to study in a library. We are always seeking to ensure that students have broad exposure and access to library services, staff, and collections, which is more likely to happen if they are studying in a library rather than another campus space. Additionally, the Bass Library ethnographic study revealed that many students prefer to study in a campus library (over their dorm rooms or a college library) for work which requires strong focus.
  13. Could the Wright Reading Room in Sterling Memorial Library be used as additional study space to ease overcrowding in Bass Library when Sterling closes at 11:45 p.m.? Setting aside the security and safety issues posed by the three staircases that lead from the Wright Reading room to Sterling, our research indicates that overcrowding occurs in Bass even at times when Sterling is open.
  14. What will the aesthetics of the renovated Bass space be? We haven’t yet made final decisions about colors, finishes, or fabrics. However, since renovation will affect only parts of Bass, the renovated spaces will be designed to harmonize with the current Bass aesthetic. In addition, several key furniture pieces, such as the brown leather chairs and tables with leather inlays, with be repurposed in the new space.
  15. Will the new, reduced-size collection include books in multiple languages, or is it conceived of as an English-language collection? The current collection in Bass is English-language-focused, and our planning process continues to emphasize English-language collections in Bass. However, if any faculty member wishes to include non-English language works supporting their undergraduate courses, we would be happy to work with them in these targeted areas.
  16. How is the library receiving and responding to feedback from the community? Throughout the project, the planning committee has solicited input from faculty, staff, and students via surveys, meetings, and other invitations. We have worked to balance feedback from different constituencies with the primary goal of the renovation: to increase library study space for the growing undergraduate population. For example, in response to the concerns about the post-renovation collection expressed at the Jan. 23 community forum, we directed the architects to increase collection shelving on the lower level of Bass. This change will raise the post-renovation capacity from approximately 40,000 volumes to at least 50,000 volumes. Also, in response to feedback, we have established a form for faculty to request and recommend specific titles at General feedback on any aspect of the project can be provided using the feedback form at
  17. How can I share my thoughts on the renovation designs or collection plans? Please share general comments using the project feedback form at If you wish to make suggestions about the collection criteria or recommend specific titles, please use the collection request form at


  1. I really like the furniture in Bass. Are you going to remove all the furniture in favor of more modern, less classic furnishings? The plan is to keep much of the current furniture in Bass. The study tables, soft, club chairs, study carrels, and individual study rooms will be rearranged to optimize the space and accommodate new seating options, but they are not being removed. The goal is to incorporate new types of seating that fit with the current look and feel of the Bass Library. 
  2. Why are you adding new exhibit cases in Bass? We are not adding exhibit cases in Bass Library. We're reconfiguring the shelving on the main floor to feature display and specialized collections. The case that is currently in front of the Security Desk at the Thain entrance is currently being used to feature books that fit various themes - these displays are programmed monthly by librarians. We are replacing the exhibit table with shelving that's customized to feature displays of books. The other shelving on the main level will be devoted to the Graphic Novel Collection and the Model Research Collection.