It’s really cold today in New York City, and for the first time all winter, spring feels very far away. But then, I’ve been thinking about the spring throughout most of this unusually warm winter season. This spring, for the first time, (in a long time, at least) the Library at the Yale Club is hosting a full set of activities that, we hope, will complement the services and activities already in place at the Club.
I’ve written before about our outreach efforts, but this spring marks a real change for the Library. Since I started here, my committee has been formulating plans for hosting small, interactive discussions at the Library. The committee wanted to appeal to a broad audience, but wanted to attract a specific type of member who is looking for more active engagement than a typical lecture might offer. We also wanted these activities to be social for our members – to allow them to engage with each other and the Club as well as the topics.
Over the last year, we’ve been able to offer that experience specifically to current graduate students through our dissertation writing group and with informal mentoring sessions on Navigating Academic and Non-Academic Job Tracks. We have a panel of academics coming in on February 25 to talk with current graduate students and new academics about the challenges of managing work-life balance in academia. These sessions have been achieving the feeling we wanted for our more general sessions. They are small (capped at 10 attendees) and give members a chance to actively engage with each other and the designated speaker.
For our general pilot program, we wanted to try an object-based learning approach to give our events a sense of “play” for the members and the speakers. We linked that with a kind of grown-up playtime, Happy Hour, to launch our “Happy Hour for the Mind” speaker series. We’ll start the series on March 1, with John Stuart Gordon, the Benjamin Attmore Hewitt Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts, Yale University Art Gallery who will talk with 18 lucky members about the cocktail shaker and “Drinking History: Shakers, Bartender’s Guides, and the Birth of Cocktail Culture.”
Also, for the first time in four years, the Library will host an Open House for our members. The Library Staff and Committee will host a cocktail party to give our member a “Behind the Scenes” tour and orientation to library services and holdings. Since the event will take place after the staff usually heads home for the evening (from 6-8 pm) we are hoping to reach out to members that we might not see during the normal work day.
More than anything, we want the Library to be a welcoming and active community space for a broader range of our members, rather than the floor they forget about or only visit to use the (admittedly, really nice) bathrooms. Here’s to this spring.