Happy days are here again

Collection Dr. Stephen K. and Janie Woo ScherThis fall, the Library is pleased to resume its Happy Hour for the Mind series, where we invite experts in different field to engage in discussions with small groups of our members. Capped at 25 people, these events are less like the popular lecture series that make up the bulk of events that take place in the Library and more like the House Teas that many Yalies may remember from their undergraduate days.

Since these events are smaller, they are also usually focused on narrower subjects, which give the presenters and audience time to develop a relationship as they discuss ideas over drinks.

We start this year with a presentation on September 11 from Dr. Stephen Scher, “Heads and Tales: The Building and Disposing of a Medal Collection.” Dr. Scher will discuss examples from his renowned medal collection.  Dr. Scher and Janie Woo Scher recently donated a significant portion of his medals to The Frick Collection, where 130 of the masterpieces are on display through September 10. The exhibition is called The Pursuit of Immortality: Masterpieces from the Scher Collection of Portrait Medals. Registration for our event will start on September 1, but if you are too excited to wait, we recommend visiting the Frick exhibition to whet your appetite.   For out of town members unable to visit either the Frick or hear Dr. Scher’s discussion, there is a wealth of related material available on the Frick website.  Dr. Scher gave a lecture about this medals on May 10, which looks at different aspects of the collection’s development: “Heads and Tales: The Odyssey of a Medals Collector.”

We’ll continue the series on October 23 with poet and translator, Peter Cole, who will discuss his work in: “Translating the World: The Poetry of What We Do.” November 13 will welcome Amy Hungerford, Professor of English and Divisional Director of Humanities at Yale. Members can look for more information on these events on the Club’s calendar and in our monthly newsletters.

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The Beinecke at the Yale Club

As the languor of summer pervades the halls of the Yale Club, drifting up to the Library from the sweltering, grimy streets of Manhattan, and into our cool, quiet Library, we aim to keep the minds of our members active. This year, we are offering a small exhibition about the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library to spark their interest.

The exhibition is curated by the Beinecke’s Director, E.C. Schroeder and designed by Library Committee member, Andrea DaRif. The exhibition shows off the Library’s storied interior – which was treated to a renovation of its mechanical systems and teaching facilities just last year. Our display cases showcase images of treasures from the Library’s extensive collection and give an overview of the Library’s diverse holdings.Beineckeexhibit

Can’t make it into the Library to see the exhibition? The Beinecke’s website has a number of resources that should satisfy your curiosity, including a timeline of the museum’s 50-year history, an oral history of the Library, and podcasts and blogs about the collections.  There’s lots to enjoy, all summer long.

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Summer Reading

Each year, as Memorial Day approaches, a few members start to approach me with their “summer reading” requests.  Many of them call them “beach reads” as they, with a little bit of unnecessary blushing, request their mysteries, thrillers, and romance novels to take with them on their travels.  As a lover of genre fiction myself, I have always been skeptical of the idea that there is such a thing as a “guilty pleasure” in reading.  To me, all reading is valuable.  Consuming a range of styles, subjects, and genres is critical to becoming a rounded person, finding pleasure as important as edification.

Of course, not all books are timeless – and maintaining a collection of “timely and timeless” works is central to the mission of the Library.  Not every book I buy for “beach reading” may be in the collection forever. But then, few things are.  In our aggressive deaccession project, for instance, we’ve had to discard biographies of people that someone surely thought would be famous forever, but whose names we barely remember now.  So the hope of timelessness, in my regular purchasing, is often trumped by timeliness.

This year, our summer reading can be even more portable.  With our new ebook platform and on demand ebook purchasing, that Club Library can come with you in your carry-on.  So let the summer reading requests begin.  No blushing necessary.

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Beyond the Stacks: The Jewish Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem

Nearly three years ago, the Library introduced its museum corporate membership program.  We began with the MoMA.  Since it is located just a few blocks from the doors of the Club, it made sense for our members to be able to visit that museum for free.  MoMA’s corporate membership program gave us two corporate cards that our members could check out from the Library staff and present at the museum for entry.  The popularity of the program led the Cub governance to add the newly re-opened Whitney Museum to its corporate membership program in 2015. As with the MoMA membership, entry cards can be checked out from Library Staff.

The popularity of the programs has remained steady for the past two years, and so this year the Club is extremely excited to add two new museums to its corporate membership program.   For at least the next year, members of the Yale Club, and one guest, can visit both The Jewish Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem, free of charge.

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The Jewish Museum

Since the mission of the Library is to “capture the essence” of the Yale educational experience, it seems important to support that education beyond the stacks in the Library and the walls of the Club, much as Yale supports education beyond the campus and classroom.  That is something the Club has been doing for years, of course, in its theater outings and cultural tours.  But the extra benefit of these museum memberships is that the Club and its members can support the kinds of institutions that make New York such a vibrant place to live, much like the Yale Club itself.

The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Jewish Museum memberships will be announced to members in our June newsletter, but the memberships are active, so Yale Club members are encourage to test them out and let us know what you think.  Members are always welcome to make reservations for the Whitney and MoMA cards with Library Staff.  Questions or comments?  Contact the Library Staff: library@yaleclubnyc.org

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Celebrating 100 Years of Thornton Wilder

Today’s post is co-written and edited by Rosey Strub and Tappan Wilder

This spring, the Library welcomes The Wilder Family as guest curators of our exhibition space.

2017 marks 120 years since Thornton Wilder’s birth, the 75th anniversary of the publication of Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Skin of Our Teeth, the 50th anniversary of Wilder’s National Book Award-winning novel The Eighth Day and a major new Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, based on Wilder’s play, The Matchmaker. Here at the Club, we thought it appropriate to Celebrate 120 Years of Thornton Wilder. The Wilder Family, led by Club member Tappan Wilder and managed by Rosey Strub, has shared with us some treasures from its collection of family photos and Wilder memorabilia.

The works of novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder, Yale Class of 1920, explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. Six of his seven novels were best sellers. He is the only American author ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for both fiction and drama: for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth. He enjoyed enormous success as a teacher, lecturer, translator and adaptor, actor and librettist. His screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Shadow of a Doubt remains a classic to this day.

The exhibition will be on display through June and, of course, we always have a full collection of Wilder’s books available for checkout.  We look forward to seeing you in the Library.

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Isabel, Amos Niven, Catharine and Thornton Wilder at Yale, June, 1956, where Amos received an honorary degree from his Alma Mater

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Stories for Snowy Days

I do not tend to prefer click-bait content for this blog, but as the snowy, sleety weather in New York today prevented me from actually making it in to the Club (the hazards of living on an above-ground transit line), I thought a short post about my favorite stories to read on snowy days would be appropriate.

  1. The Once and Future King (T.H. White, 1958). The quartet of novels, The Sword in the Stone (1938), The Queen of Air and Darkness (1939), The Ill-Made Knight (1940), and The Candle in the Wind (1958, as part of the whole book) is a retelling of the Arthurian Legends that explores the ethics of war and power and the meaning of humanity. It’s a book that makes me feel hopeful and sad at the same time – an escape from reality that informed by all the most painful realities. Since the book follows King Arthur from childhood to old age, it’s also a soul-warming book to read over an epic snow-bound day.
  1. Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton, 1911). This novella, about the unhappy marriage between a man and his invalid wife, was a staple of high school American Literature classes in later part of the twentieth century, and is perhaps generally disliked as a result. How many of you reading this can tell me about the symbolic meaning of the pickle dish? Nevertheless, one of Wharton’s great gifts as a writer is her ability to evoke the physical and emotional temperatures of places; the chilliness of Frome’s Starkfield, Massachusetts is difficult to escape.
  1. To Build a Fire” (Jack London, 1908). A man on the Yukon trail attempts to build a fire when he does not make it back to camp as planned. No story will make you feel happier to be safe and warm at home than this visceral piece.
  1. The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats, 1962). The perfect book for a snowy day if you have young ones in the house – or even if you don’t – Keats’ Caldecott Medal winning picture book follows Peter’s adventures in the snow. His red jumpsuit is still, to my mind, the warmest, coziest outfit possible.

If you do have little ones at home from school this wintry March Day, you may be looking forward to the warm spring days of April. Get out of the house this spring and join us in the Library on April 29 for a Crazy Hat Party, where we will be reading Ezra Jack Keat’s Jennie’s Hat. Reservations can be made on the Club’s online calendar.

Stay warm.

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Travel at the Yale Club Library: What’s your destination?

When I explain what kind of library I work at, I usually say: It’s a private library, but it’s a lot like a public library. What I mean by “like a public library” is we are a general collection, comprised largely of leisure reading materials.  Although we do have some special collections, notably our extensive collection of Yale Class Books, they are not specifically part of our primary mission, which is “to provide a quiet refuge for those seeking the intellectual stimulation and spirit that books and the written word can provide.” 

Because we are a small collection, with limited funds, we look to develop a collection that is “timely and timeless,” and so avoid purchasing materials that may get limited use, but which require regular updates and which are frequently vandalized or stolen at public libraries: materials like restaurant guides, test preparation guides, and travel books. 

We receive a certain number of requests for all of these materials, and I regret not being able to serve the patrons.  For test prep books, there is little I can do but offer a support, but for travel, I try to be more active, directing the member at least to the history and geography section for the country or state that is the  destination. Many of these sections, however, are still old and outdated – there are not areas in which I have yet done much active buying.

But I think that might be about to change, and I’m asking my members to help.  I still do not plan to collect travel books and to replace them every couple of years.  For us, that approach is just prohibitively expensive.

What I do hope to do is enlist members who are experts in, natives of, or just plain lovers of different cities, towns, and countries to develop an “Essentials” guide to a place of choice. 

What are the “Travel Essentials”?  In some ways, that would depend on the place – but I would guess that for many places it would include three key recommended books:

 

  1. A general history

  2. A cultural history

  3. A representative piece of literature

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    Where do we go from here?

This idea developed out of a conversation I had with one of our members, Josebe Bilbao-Henry (@mjbilbao).  We only met recently, but in our conversations it became clear that both strongly believe that what makes the Yale Club Library special is its ability to be a real community library – something that Club Members enjoy together, even though they are silent in the space. 

 

This is something that already happens, to some degree, in the purchasing that I do for the Library each week.  As Librarian, I make the final decision on all purchases, but many of my purchases are suggested by members.  Those purchases, however, are anonymous, as far as other members are concerned.  The fun of these “Travel Essentials” lists is that members can claim them for their own and share them with their fellow members openly. 

And the planning can start today.  Are you a YC member with a burning “Travel Essentials” list ready to go? Would you like to discuss an idea with me?  Contact me: library@yaleclubnyc.org.

What’s your destination?

 

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