Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

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Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was a 1963 gift of the Beinecke family. The building, designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft, of the firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, is the largest building in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. It is built at the center of the University, in Hewitt Quadrangle, which is more commonly referred to as "Beinecke Plaza". A six-story above-ground tower of book stacks is surrounded by a windowless rectangular building with walls made of translucent Vermont marble, which transmit subdued lighting and provide protection from direct light. Three floors of stacks extend under Hewitt Quadrangle. The sculptures in the sunken courtyard are by Isamu Noguchi and are said to represent time (the pyramid); sun - (the circle); and chance - (the cube). The library also contains an exhibition hall that, among other things, displays one of the 40 existent copies of the Gutenberg Bible, study areas, reading rooms, the catalogue room, microfilm room, offices, and the book storage areas.

During the 1960s, Claes Oldenburg's sculpture "Lipstick on a Caterpillar Track" was displayed in Beinecke Plaza, although it is now displayed in Morse College.


In the late 19th century the rarer and more valuable books of the Library of Yale College were placed on special shelving at the Old Library (now Dwight Hall). These were moved to the Rare Book Room collection of Sterling Memorial Library when it opened in 1930. When the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library opened its doors on October 14, 1963, it had become the home of the volumes from the Sterling Memorial Library Rare Book Room, and three special collections--the Collection of American Literature, the Collection of Western Americana, and the Collection of German Literature. Shortly afterward, they were joined by the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection. Beinecke Library became the repository for books in the Yale collection printed anywhere before 1601, books printed in Latin America before 1751, books printed in North America before 1821, newspapers and broadsides printed in the United States before 1851, European tracts and pamphlets printed before 1801, and Slavic, East European, Near and Middle Eastern books through the eighteenth century, as well as special books outside these categories.

Special collections

The holdings of the Beinecke Library include

External link


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