Greatest Literary Treasures
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, is the largest library of its kind. The architectural gem, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft in 1963, houses over one million books including some of the rarest manuscripts and greatest literary treasures in the world.
Shortly after celebrating the iconic facility’s 50th anniversary, Yale embarked on a 16-month renovation, which addressed a number of challenges, including: the accommodation of an expanding collection, the increasing demands of technology and the advancement of the library’s mission.
While some of the renovation work is visible to the public, many of the changes and upgrades to Beinecke were behind-the-scenes or technical in nature. Mechanical infrastructure and technology upgrades included, for example, a waterless fire suppression system and ADA code compliance.
According to Edwin C. Schroeder, the library’s director, some changes to public areas were so subtle, visitors thought, “What have you been doing for the past 15 months?”
“The renovation of the Beinecke is crucial for us as an institution,” says Schroeder. “The primary focus … is to improve the preservation of the collections. The renovation project will enable the library to maintain its status as a world class center for research and scholarship for the next 50 years.”
Yale takes great pride in the facility, which serves as a center for research and scholarship. In fact, the renovation allowed the university to double classroom space.
“It is incumbent upon us to teach students how to think about books as material artifacts,” says curator Kathryn James.
Integral Storage Solutions provided shelving and mobile storage systems for an essential part of the project: the move of the library’s Technical Services Department to a new location in New Haven’s Science Park. The renovated 43,000 square-foot space once housed a U.S. Repeating Arms factory.
Apicella + Bunton Architects, LLC of New Haven oversaw the relocation, with an emphasis on more spacious and enhanced work areas and room for growth. Founded in 2004, Apicella + Bunton Architects LLC is an architectural design firm specializing in planning and design services for residential, corporate, cultural and academic clients. Their design included references to the iconic Gordon Bunshaft building. Read the full case study of the project on their website.
The specialized work of the Technical Services Department includes cataloging, archival processing, digitization, and preservation of the library’s collections. Items under the department’s care include medieval manuscripts, original photographs of Abraham Lincoln, the Ezra Pound papers, and the archives of Langston Hughes.
The products we selected for Technical Services included Montel Mobilex – Mechanically Assisted High Density Mobile Shelving, along with SmartShelf 4-Post Hybrid. We configured SmartShelf according to the custom requirements of the collection manager, taking into account the weight and flexibility required.
A key factor was SmartShelf’s hook type shelf, which is unique in the world of 4-post shelving. The product is easy to adjust for varying heights of materials, and unlike most other types of shelving, adjusting the shelves requires no hardware or tools. In a collection that changes and evolves over time, this is an important consideration for the library staff.
–Jeff DiCicco, Principal, Integral Storage Solutions
Technical Services was previously spread over four different locations. Now, within one centralized location, the department is equipped with state-of-the-art storage systems from Integral Storage Solutions that safely and securely protect their priceless collections.
Interesting facts about Yale University, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and its renovation:
- Rare books in the library’s collection include a copy of the Gutenberg Bible—one of 21 complete copies of the first book printed in moveable type still in existence, John Audubon’s “Birds of America,” and math and science books of Isaac Newton.
- Beinecke acquires roughly 12,000 printed items, 1,000 linear feet of archives and 1,000 individual manuscripts annually.
- Yale’s campus includes other masterpieces of modernist architecture, including Paul Rudolph’s School of Architecture and Louis Kahn’s Center for British Art.
Jeff DiCicco’s architectural drawings of the project:
Beinecke Library reopens, a ‘gem’ for scholars and students
Beinecke Library Renovation: Frequently Asked Questions
A Modernized Beinecke Library Opens Next Month
Yale’s renovated Beinecke Library to reopen September 6
New Headquarters Opens for Technical Services Staff
Beinecke Library and Yale Preservation – Apicella + Bunton Architects