July 11, 2013
By Wendy Wasman
Museum Librarian & Archivist
From June 17-21, I was fortunate to be one of 50 students selected to attend Rare Book School at Yale University. The one-week course was called "Introduction to Archives for Special Collections Librarians," and there were 13 students and two instructors. Three other courses were held concurrently during the week, and all of the students were able to mingle at daily coffee breaks and evening programs.
The kick-off event was held on the evening of Sunday, June 16 at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Beinecke turned 50 this year (the same age as this blogger!). The library's outer walls have marble panels that keep harmful sunlight away from the rare books, but let in just enough light to make them glow. The picture at right shows what they looked like at 5:30pm during movie night (Franco Zeffirelli's documentary Florence: Days of Destruction, made after the November 4, 1966 flood that devastated libraries and museums in Florence, Italy—a true horror movie for librarians).
Our class was held in the Bass Library, which occupies two underground floors beneath a part of Yale known as Cross Campus. The Bass is connected to Sterling Memorial Library by an underground tunnel. We also took some walking field trips to see processing spaces, where Beinecke staff members process large collections of archives and manuscripts.
My week at Yale was intense: class every day from 8:30am to 5pm, evening programs and lectures, field trips and even homework! I'm grateful that the Museum supported my attendance at Rare Book School, and I look forward to integrating everything I learned into my daily activities as the Museum's librarian and archivist.