Yale University

Working at Yale

Library staff get to the heart of the matter

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When Jennifer Nolte, Library IT, looks at this picture, she "sees many familiar faces whom I’ve grown to know very well in my seven years here. This photo captures the kind, willing and helpful natures of these people I've come to know. Librarianship is a service profession, albeit a service of delivering information, and I think people who are predisposed to helpfulness and are excited about learning are drawn to such a career path. This is certainly reflected in the colleagues I see every day and in this picture.”

Nolte was among a group of library staff who congregated in the courtyard of the Sterling Memorial Library (SML) to celebrate the Yale Library in the spirit of Valentine’s Day by illustrating the inscription engraved on the wall next to the entrance to SML: “The Library is the heart of the University.” Their gaze was trained on photographer Kimberly Pasko, Office of Public Affairs and Communications, who stood on the library roof to capture the group, which included University Librarian Susan Gibbons at the front of the heart.

On February 14 (Happy Valentine’s Day!), the photo appeared on the Yale University Library Facebook page and the Yale University Facebook page. On the latter, the photo garnered over 1,100 “likes” and almost 100 comments in one day. Messages expressing love of Yale, appreciation for libraries and librarians, as well as Valentine’s Day wishes were posted from as far away as Kenya, Japan, Peru, and Bangladesh. One person described his years of working at the library as a scholarship student as some of “the best ever, mostly because of the great people….”. Another described the library as her “home away from home.” An enthusiastic library staff member chimed in with, “So happy I work here!”

Working@Yale thought it might be fun to ask some of the staff members who helped create the heart in the courtyard of SML a couple of questions.

What does the inscription -- “The Library is the Heart of the University”-- mean to you?

Carla Heister, librarian, Forestry & Environmental Studies Library
The Library is the lifeblood of all of the intellectual endeavors happening within the institution. The knowledge from the past is available to present and future users through the efforts of library staff.

Jennifer Castellon, senior administrative assistant, Beinecke

The library breathes life into the rest of the University. It is a place that the students can learn, rest, eat, and socialize. It is like a second home and home is where the heart is.

Jennifer Nolte, applications manager/database administrator, Library IT
The Library *is* the heart of the University in that it offers a place for students to reflect and revise activities central to higher education. The library is both social and solitary; a place to interact and a place for quiet study. When we say, 'Get to the heart of the matter,' we mean 'seek the deeper truth.' The library is that place, the heart: a center for those who seek the deeper truths.

Now that you've seen the photo you took part in, what do you think it says about the library staff at Yale?

Amanda Patrick, director, Communications, Yale Library.
The photo is awesome and I was struck by the cross section of staff that showed up. I think it demonstrates the pride that we all feel to work in such an institution and it reflects the diversity of our staff. I hope the photo also conveys the message that the library staff is composed of a dedicated and talented group of people - including language and technical experts and subject specialists - who together have a tremendous knowledge of the collections and resources available through the library.

Stephanie Sherry, acquisitions assistant, Digital, Reformatting & Vendor Services, Preservation Dept.
I think it shows that we do work well together and we take our jobs seriously.

Daniel Dollar, director, Collection Development, Yale Library
I think the photo says that behind the beautiful library facades and collections there are library staff ready and willing to help you.


Sterling Memorial Library, with its fifteen floors of stacks and over four million volumes, is the central campus hub of the Yale University Library. Yale’s libraries span eighteen buildings across campus (and include others in Farmington and Hamden) and are home to treasures such as the Gutenberg Bible, the Henry Kissinger Archives, and Italian municipal statutes from as far back as the fourteenth century, just to name a few. The Yale Library is the third largest university library in the United States, containing approximately 12.8 million volumes.