Yale Dedicates New Music Library Today

The dedication of Yale’s new Irving S. Gilmore Music Library will take place Friday, Oct. 16, at 4 p.m. The new library is housed within Sterling Memorial Library, the University’s principal library, 120 High St. A reception will follow the dedication. Guests are also invited to get a first look at the new facility during an open house beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Present at the event will be library staff and officers of the University, including Yale President Richard C. Levin and University Librarian Scott Bennett, as well as trustees of the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation. Kendall Crilly, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Music Librarian, will also be available.

The library is named for the late Irving Gilmore, a 1923 graduate of Yale who made a significant contribution toward the construction of the new facility through a bequest. The University subsequently received a gift for the new building from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, established in 1972 in Kalamazoo, Mich. In addition to continuing to support Mr. Gilmore’s interest in music scholarship at Yale through its generous gift to the construction fund, the foundation also plays a significant philanthropic role in the Kalamazoo community, supporting human services, cultural activities and the performing arts.

The new facility was designed by Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott of Boston. The dedication marks the completion of an 18-month, $11-million construction project managed by Barr & Barr Inc. of New Haven.

Before the Gilmore Library was built, the music library was located a block away, in Sprague Memorial Hall, in a facility named for John Herrick Jackson. However, as Yale’s music holdings grew to the approximately 160,000 books, scores, recordings and other works that now comprise the collection, a larger space was needed. With the new library, the University’s principal music collections – many of which had to be shelved in other libraries – have once again been brought together under one roof.

The construction of the Gilmore Library was initiated by President Levin, who describes the new facility as “a spectacular addition to the University.” He adds: “As a physical entity, it is an impressive and ample space in which to house our music collections. But it’s more than that. This new library is a place where music scholarship can thrive – where discussions, performances and the excitement of discovery can occur comfortably under one roof.”

“We have needed this library for decades,” notes Bennett, “and it was wonderful finally to be able to build it. I think the richest and most exciting reward was to see music students in the library literally the first hour we opened. As soon as the first listening equipment was out of the box, a student was there. We still were in some disarray, but students were there. I said to my colleagues, ‘This is why we built this place.’ It’s a wonderful magnet for students and faculty. We are ecstatic.”

Because it is located within Sterling Library, the new full-service facility is commonly referred to as a “library within a library.” The structure consists of approximately 13,000 square feet of new space created in Sterling’s second courtyard and approximately 13,000 square feet of surrounding renovated space within Sterling. Book stacks and a Historical Sound Recording Studio are located on the ground level. The first floor has a listening area, two seminar rooms, offices and an exhibition space. On the mezzanine level are the reading area, periodical stacks, offices and a technical services area. Soaring approximately 60 feet above the mezzanine is a new, dramatic arched truss roof structure that allows indirect natural light into the new library. The handsome space in the main reading room and at library carrels encourages study, and all reader areas are wired for power and data transmission.

Even before the study of music formally became part of the Yale curriculum, the University had a music collection. Mid-19th-century acquisitions, which supported religious scholarship, included works by Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schumann and Lowell Mason, whose family gave his large library – more than 10,000 volumes – to Yale after his death. Over the years the library has grown to include vast collections of both sacred and secular works, including musical performance scores and parts, books on the theory and history of music, sound recordings in all formats, music manuscripts, periodicals, extensive collections of composers’ personal papers and archives, and rare editions.

Materials in Yale’s music library are used to meet the research and performing needs of Yale’s graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Music, the Music Department and the Institute of Sacred Music, and of music scholars from around the world. Yale’s music collection also attracts world-class musicians to its faculty. One of the reasons composer Paul Hindemith joined the School of Music faculty in 1940 was, he said at the time, because of “a marvelous library.”

Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this

Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325