Yale Sterling Memorial Library

Reading Lights

A photo essay.

Yale’s Sterling Library is named for John William Sterling, the person who paid for it, but you can forgive those who mistake the tribute for a simple adjective.

Gothic and churchy—like many of the buildings architect John Gamble Rogers designed for his alma mater—its interior is preposterously pretty. The library’s main webpage notes the structure’s “cloisters, clerestory windows, side chapels circulation desk altar,” plus 3,300 stained glass windows. A 2005 Yale Alumni Magazine article by Judith Schiff, the Yale library system’s chief historian, hails Sterling as a “masterpiece of modern Gothic architecture,” noting its “great cathedral-like nave with vaulted aisles.” There are also reliefs, gargoyles and paintings galore, plus ornate ceilings that’ll have you arching until well after your neck hurts.

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Mission of Faith at Knights of Columbus Museum

One arch-worthy class of decoration that doesn’t seem to get a ton of love, at least in print, is the overhead electric lighting, which in the library’s publicly accessible spaces comes almost exclusively from chandeliers. Have a look, then do yourself a favor and go have a look.

Sterling Memorial Library
120 High St, New Haven (map)
Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm, Sat 10am-4:45pm, Sun noon-4:45pm

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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