A Place for Quiet Contemplation

I am continuing our virtual tour of the library this week with a look at the Main Reading Room, than and now.


From Henry S.F. Cooper Jr.’s Tour of the Yale Club Library

From the elevator lobby, the Main Reading Room opens straight in front of you, running


The Main Reading Room at the Club’s opening.

south along the Vanderbilt Avenue side of the building.  A long, many-windowed, sunny room with a pair of columns near the south end, it is neoclassical in style.  The only concession to New York, notifying you that you are not in fact inside a Greek temple, is that the brown barrel-vaulted ceiling is broken at regular intervals by steel girders (disguised as coffered vaulting); the ceiling is decorated with medallions of Grecian fold cavorting about with very little on, more appropriate perhaps to the locker rooms on the floor immediately above.  The large, heavy wooden tables running down the center are excellent for spreading papers on.


About a third of the Library’s books are in this room, and consequently a walk down its length is like a tour of a well-furnished mind. […] Travel and history books are in the first three alcoves on the right, books by members, books about science, and about health are


The south end of the room, where Books by Members now reside.

in the fourth alcove; science dictionaries and books on crime, education, and military history are in the last two alcoves (including the area behind the pillars).  The Encyclopedia Britannica is back the by entrance.  Going down the left side, the first three alcoves are philosophy and religion, which the third alcove shares with books about sociology; more sociology and political science come next, with economics, business, law, and justice in the fifth and sixth alcoves.  The card catalogue is in the third alcove to the right.


The Main Reading Room remains nearly unchanged in design.  Lamps throughout the space add more light for reading.  Member Books now have more space devoted to them, and flank the fireplace at the south end of the room.  It is still the most popular space in the Library for members to work – whether that means reading a book or newspaper, writing on a laptop or iPad, or studying for exams.  Although the card catalogue still resides in the third alcove to the right, that piece is for nostalgia only.  The most recent catalog records are electronic, and members can access them through our OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) station behind the card catalog, or on their own devices through the link on the Library webpage.  The Main Reading Room of the Yale Club Library is arguably one of the quietest study spaces in New York City.


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