Featured Art Library: Yale University Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library
The Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library serves Yale University, the community of New Haven, CT, and the general public. The library includes materials on art, art history, architecture, and drama, serving Yale’s renowned schools of Art, Architecture, and Drama as its main constituents. The current library was built by Paul Rudolph in 1963 as part of the Art and Architecture building. Today the structure is one of only three remaining Rudolph designs in New Haven and serves as inspiration for those who have a soft spot for Brutalist architecture. In 1996, Gwathmey, Siegel and Associates renovated the building, providing the space with modern comforts like air conditioning while restoring distinctive features of the library, such as its paprika-colored carpet. The library space fosters quiet study, which contrasts with its location in the busy hub of downtown New Haven. Approximately 200,000 patrons visit the library each year and enjoy the space’s studious atmosphere, natural lighting, furniture by Eero Saarinen, and photography by the library’s namesake, Yale alumnus Robert B. Haas. The library provides access to over 425,000 volumes and also has its own special collections. Arts Library Special Collections (ALSC) particularly focuses on the work of twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists and designers and has a strong collection of artists’ books.
Beyond providing traditional library orientation and research sessions for Yale, the Haas Library has recently hosted several special outreach programs.
Since 2014, the library has organized printing press demonstrations using an Albion hand press at The Bibliographical Press. These workshops provide individuals from all backgrounds with the opportunity to see firsthand how a printing press works, fostering a connection between the production and dissemination of information.
Workshops have been held recently for the freshman seminar “Paper,” a class titled “Picture Writing: Photo-texts & Image-texts,” and the Yale Young Global Scholars. ALSC holds many sessions to share its collections with Yale affiliates and the public. During the last fiscal year, 655 individuals participated in instruction sessions.
Additionally, in the spring of 2016 the Haas Library hosted an Art+Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon to address the limited representation of female artists on Wikipedia.
The Haas Library also reaches a range of patrons through its digital projects. The Faber Birren Collection of Books on Color is one of the library’s largest digitized special collections and covers subjects like color nomenclature, color perception, and the psychology of color. Originally consisting of 226 donated books, the collection has grown to over 3000 items. Many are accessible through Yale’s digital collections system, FindIt.
The library has also been active in the field of digital humanities. Lindsay King, Associate Director for Access & Research Services at the library, along with Peter Leonard of Yale’s Digital Humanities Lab, launched several data mining experiments using issues of Vogue as source material. The Robots Reading Vogue website reveals trends in word usage and imagery in the publication over time.