2017 in Review

We have just about two weeks left in 2017. As each year closes, we in the Library think about what our members liked and used the most in our collection and services.


Our Main Reading Room during a rare moment without members filling each nook.


Although we know we’ll have different numbers by the end of the month, here are our statistics for 2017 through December 15.

  • Our Members continue to appreciate a good read:
    • 268 members registered for RB Digital.
      • RB Digital is our ebook, eaudio, emagazine service – which is free with Club membership.
      • 569 members have signed up since we got our subscription in 2016 and we hope to see even more members register in 2018.
    • 3,369 were eMagazines were checked out.
      • The Economist was by far the favorite, with 1006 issues checked out
    • 432 ebooks and audiobooks were checked out.
      • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, was our most popular title, circulating 32 times.
    • 1818 print books have been checked out of the Library.
      • Mysteries, General Fiction, and Biography make up the bulk of our checkouts.
    • 170 material requests were fulfilled.
  • Our members also continue to enjoy the culture New York and the Club has to offer:
    • More than 300 visits were made to the Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art using our corporate cards.
    • Members (and a guest) enjoyed the Jewish Museum and Studio Museum in Harlem whenever they wanted, just by showing their membership cards at the entrance.
    • Three exhibitions presented over the year celebrated the centennial of one of Yale’s most prominent graduates, the rich collections at Yale, and the 500th anniversary of a major shift in western culture:

While we love all these numbers, what we notice most is that there are still members out there not making enough use of the Library and its services. If you did not visit us this year, find is in 2018, and make your Library work for you.

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Statements: Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

In 2014, the Library commemorated the start of World War I in Europe with an exhibition of literary and artistic works that came out of the war. In 2015, our exhibition about the Yale Club’s Centennial at 50 Vanderbilt was commemorated with an exhibition about the artists, writers, and publishers who were members of the Club in 1915. The anniversary we celebrate this year rather puts those trifling 100 year anniversaries to shame.

In 1517, Martin Luther, a German Monk, wrote a document that would affect its


Detail of a 16th century engraving depicting Luther putting the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church — the most iconic image of the Reformation.

particular historical moment with such force that the world would change in direct response to the ideas contained within it.   It is this five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses that we commemorate in our last exhibition of 2017.


This exhibition, “Luther’s 95 Theses: The Spark that Ignited the Reformation,” was curated by Library Committee member Philipp von Turk and Librarian Christina Kasman (me!) with design assistance from fellow committee member Andrea DaRif. Mr. Von Turk, a student at Union Theological Seminary, wanted to emphasize the importance of writing, representation, and books to this reformation of thought and religion, making the exhibition a nice match for our Library’s collection and the general theme of our exhibitions.

Members can see the exhibition in the Library through January 2018.

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New Leaves

It has been a busy autumn here at the Yale Club Library. The space has been full of people hard at work most days as members have left behind the slower summer pace.  But there has still been time for reading and culture.

In the last two months, members made good use of our memberships at the Jewish Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, and, of course, the Whitney and the MoMA. The “Calder: Hypermobility” exhibition at the Whitney (open until October 23) kept our corporate cards checked out much of the time, and members have been buzzing about “Modigliani Unmasked” at the Jewish Museum.

We’ve also seen a rise in the use of digital materials as more members register for our RBDigital Service, which provides access to our collection of ebooks, audiobooks, and digital magazines. To keep up with demand, we are happy to announce that we’ve added five new magazine subscriptions to our offerings: Cook’s Illustrated, PCWorld, Bon Appetit, Vogue, and AFAR. We are have also added several new ebooks and audiobooks.  Given the success of our pilot program over the last eighteen months, we’ve decided to begin purchasing at least three ebooks/audiobooks a month in addition to those requested by members.

We have also added many Books by Members to our collection since the summer; the most recent additions can be viewed in the display case in the Lobby near the coat check. Members have published books on everything from financial planning to teamwork to architecture.  The breadth of knowledge and talent is striking.  Our regular Books by Members collection has grown so large that we’ve had to expand beyond the two bookcases flanking the fireplace by reintegrating books more than five years old into the regular circulating collection. They are still marked and cataloged at books by members, but we needed to make room on our designated shelves for the future.

The Yale Club Library Collection is then, in a very real sense, formed by members, and filled by members, and we hope it will remain so as we head towards the holiday season.

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Frederick C. Barghoorn in Russia

A couple of years ago, one of my members came in to donate a set of his books to our Books by Members collection. Professor Thomas F. Remington, an emeritus professor of Political Science at Emory University, brought us not only his own work on post communist political institutions, but also a collection of essays in honor of his late teacher, Professor Frederick C. Barghoorn.  The teacher and the student must have felt a similar inclination to share their knowledge with their fellow members.  In 1964, Barghoorn donated a copy of his most recent book: SOVIET FOREIGN PROPAGANDA.  The book, a standard in the field, is still in our collection today.  I came across the book while shelving last week – its fine, red dust jacket still intact, having long outlasted the jackets of the books around it. I knew Professor Barghoorn’s name only from Professor Remington’s recollections, and I pulled the book out of curiosity.barghoorncover

Barghoorn, who attended Amherst and Harvard as a student, was a long-time member of the Yale Faculty (from 1947 until his retirement in 1980), and a member of the Yale Club.  The professor presented a copy of his latest book to the Library on May 16, 1964. A little over six months earlier, Barghoorn had been released from a Soviet prison.

Sometime in late October 1963, Professor Barghoorn was arrested for espionage.  He stepped outside the Hotel Metropole (perhaps today most famous to readers of American novels as the setting for Amor Towles’ Gentleman in Moscow).  A man approached him, muttered incoherently, and thrust a sheaf of papers at him.  Two minutes later, Professor Barghoorn was apprehended and imprisoned.  When it reached the American press on November 11, the arrest caused a sensation — well-documented and accessible through the Yale Daily News Historical Archive and New York Times.  Barghoorn was in Russia on sabbatical, gathering information for the book that would become SOVIET FOREIGN BarghoorninscriptionPROPAGANDA.  He was, by all accounts (at least in Western media) scrupulous about avoiding any impression of impropriety while traveling in the Soviet Union.  His brother reported that he didn’t even travel with a camera. An article in the Yale Daily News suggested  that Barghoorn might have arrested in retaliation for arrests of Russians in Englewood, NJ that October.

Students and colleagues at Yale, notably the Yale Russian Chorus, mobilized immediately, contacting friends and acquaintances in government and decrying Barghoorn’s arrest as an attack on all scholars.  On November 14, President Kennedy gave what would be his last press conference, calling for Barghoorn’s release.  Kennedy insisted that Barghoorn was not on an intelligence mission.  Two days later, Barghoorn was released from custody and his return to the US on November 18 hailed as a Kennedy triumph.  Four days later, President Kennedy was dead.

Barghoorn dedicated SOVIET FOREIGN PROPAGANDA “To the Memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.”

Soviet foreign propaganda – those words still have power, as does Barghoorn’s book.  While writing part of this entry, I had Dr. Barghoorn’s book sitting next to me at the reference desk.  In the hour I was there, two members spotted it and exclaimed in awe: I can’t believe you have this book.  I let one take a picture of the cover to send to a family member.

Members can visit us at the Library to look at it themselves.

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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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