Yale Dedicates the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library

University Librarian Alice Prochaska, John and Carmen Thain P ’08, President Richard C. Levin, and William H. Wright II ’82 cut a ribbon to dedicate the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library.

On November 30, 2007, Yale University hosted the official dedication of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library. This new underground facility replaces Cross Campus Library (CCL) and is named in honor of the facility’s lead benefactors. Special guests at the event included donors William H. Wright II ’82 and Carmen and John Thain P ’08.

The day started with a symposium, “Creating Today’s Library,” exploring advances in library science at Yale, and ended with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and reception honoring the many alumni, parents, and friends who supported the project.

Alice Prochaska, University librarian, welcomed more than 150 guests to the dedication. “Totally transformed, the new Bass Library is intended to provide for the study and learning needs of the Yale community, flexibly and collaboratively, for generations,” she said.

The transformation begins with a challenge

University Librarian Alice Prochaska addresses guests at the dedication.Constructed in 1971, CCL had long served as a focal point for undergraduate scholarship, but after thirty-five years of service, it was demolished to make way for an improved facility. Prochaska’s vision of a modern library guided the reconstruction, framing a modern space for individual and collaborative study, infrastructure for advanced research and new media, and a layout designed to facilitate the students’ journey of discovery between the undergraduate library and the larger University library system.

To help fund this vision, Anne and Robert Bass ’71 made a generous commitment to match contributions of $10,000 to $500,000, and more than 160 donors responded to the challenge. Following years of planning, a design by architectural firm Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, and fifteen months of construction led by Barr & Barr, the Bass Library opened this fall to the acclaim of faculty and students.

An opportunity for reflection and thanks
Celebrating this successful project, Prochaska stated her gratitude to donors including the Basses, Donna L. Dubinsky ’77, William Wright, and Carmen and John Thain. She also acknowledged the many other donors who participated in the challenge, and the individuals who worked to facilitate a seamless construction process. She then invited Claire Halloran, library services assistant, to describe her unique perspective on the new library.

William Wright and Claire Halloran share fond memories of CCL, Yale’s undergraduate library from 1971 to 2006. Halloran, who has served Yale’s libraries for forty-two years, spoke with affection and good humor of “the intensely fluorescent world that was CCL” before expressing her appreciation for the newly rebuilt facility. She offered anecdotes about former students who once frequented CCL, from producer David S. Milch ’66  to Geoffrey C. Tabin ’78, the first Yalie to climb Mt. Everest. “From here,” she said, “magnificent people have gone out to care for our world.”

Wright spoke next, saying how much it meant to him to support the “throbbing heart of Yale.” His gift established the Wright Reading Room, located beneath Sterling Memorial Library in the former Machine City. He said, “If I have one hope, it is that every student who comes into these rooms would find knowledge, wisdom, and judgment to solve the great problems of the world.”

Carmen and John Thain were also cited for their generous support of the project, recognized in the library’s new café. The newly appointed CEO of Merrill Lynch, Thain spoke warmly of Yale’s attention to its undergraduates; his daughter Nicole is a senior here. “This was a way for us to give back and contribute to the student experience,” he said. Already a popular destination for students, the Thain Family Café offers refreshments prepared with organic and local ingredients, secured through the Yale Sustainable Food Project.

The ribbon is cut, opening a new center for learning at Yale

In his remarks, President Levin thanked the Basses for their leadership support in reconstructing the library as well as their longtime commitment to the University; their previous giving has included a $20 million contribution in 1996 to renovate Berkeley College. He also expressed his gratitude to alumni, parents, and friends who followed the Basses lead. “The Wright Reading Room and the Thain Family Café are the anchors of the new library,” Levin said.

Jane Levin, John, Carmen, and Nicole Thain, and Alice Prochaska attend to a dedication speaker.Levin offered particular praise to Thomas Beeby for designing the Bass Library, which he described as a great place for anyone learning to be a scholar. He said, “The undergraduate library is the heart of Yale College. You can see the map of different fields of knowledge right before your eyes.” He also articulated importance of donor support and endowment growth in securing the excellence of the Yale University library system, which features the largest acquisition budget in North America.

As a gesture of thanks, Levin presented Wright and the Thain family with architectural photos of their named spaces. A ribbon cutting followed, and Prochaska invited attendees to a reception in the Thain Family Café, where students and staff offered guided tours of the new facility.

(December 1, 2007) 

December 1, 2007