Yale University

The International Room at Sterling Library.

The International Room at Sterling Library, Yale University

Yale University Library

The Yale Library is one of the largest research libraries in the world and one of the two largest university libraries in North America. The Library holds over 12.5 million physical volumes in nearly 700 languages. In addition, its holdings comprise numerous microforms, maps, visual resources, multimedia items, and special collections from ancient papyri to manuscripts to archives to rare books.

African Collection

The Yale University Library includes some of the most extensive and accessible collections of Africana in North America, if not the world. The African Collection has a particularly strong focus on anglophone southern, central, east, and west Africa; francophone and lusophone countries are also strongly represented, and there are considerable resources on all other areas, including the Indian Ocean islands.


M’Bouaka Child, Equator Province (Congo).
The Zagourski Collection consists of 200 postcards made from photographs taken by the Polish aristocrat Casimir Zagourski in Africa between 1924 and 1941, which formed a part of his overall project, L’Afrique qui disparaît! (Vanishing Africa!).

Arts Library

The Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library comprises the merged holdings of the former Art & Architecture and Drama libraries, and the Arts of the Book Collection, making it the primary collection for the study of art, architecture, and drama production at Yale. The Classics Library remains in its original location but shares many services and resources with the Haas Family Arts Library. The Visual Resources Collection service bureau is located on the lower level.


Dragon god Ryujin, from the Noh play Kasugaryujin, illustrated by Rioshu.

Babylonian Collection

The Babylonian Collection houses the largest assemblage of cuneiform inscriptions in the United States, and one of the five largest in the world. The bulk of the inscriptions consists of clay tablets in all sizes and shapes. There are also a number of inscribed monuments on stone and other materials, including a large collection of stamp and cylinder seals. The Collection maintains a complete library in the fields of Assyriology (the study of ancient Mesopotamia), Hittitology (the study of ancient Anatolia, roughly equivalent to modern Turkey), and Near Eastern archaeology.


Clay tablet reproducing an episode of the Epic of Gilgamesh (Old Babylonian period, ca. 1800 BCE). The Yale Gilgamesh Tablet is one of the most important manuscripts of this epic poem from ancient Iraq.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

The Beinecke Library, opened in 1963, is Yale’s principal repository for literary manuscripts, rare books, and early manuscripts as well as photography. Beinecke collections support medieval, Renaissance, and early modern studies, while extensive resources in American history and literature, Western Americana, African American culture, and modern European history and thought are complemented by Near Eastern and Tibetan manuscript collections.


al-Mawlawi al-Mughli, Kitab-i Shahidi (The Book of Shahidi). Undated (probably eighteenth century) manuscript collection of poems in Ottoman Turkish (i.e., Turkish in Arabic script).

Divinity Library

The Yale Divinity School Library includes the collections of the Trowbridge Reference Library, the Sneath Library of Religious Education, and the Day Missions Library. Over the years, it has become one of the most important theological libraries in the world.


Postcard of an American missionary setting off on a trip to the countryside, Jiangsu Province, China, ca. 1920s.

East Asia Library

Yale was the first university in the country to collect materials from East Asia, with systematic acquisitions of Japanese books beginning in the early 1870s. In 1877, the Chinese collection began with a gift from Yung Wing (B.A. 1854), the first Chinese to graduate from an American college. Noted scholar Kan’ichi Asakawa curated the collections from 1907, bringing to Yale many rare East Asian books and manuscripts.


Korean manuscript edition of the Thousand Character Classic, a work used for centuries in East Asia to help students learn Chinese characters.

Judaica Collection

Yale has a long and rich tradition in the study of Jewish religion, history, and thought dating back to Yale’s founding, when the study of Hebrew was required. The focus of the 95,000-volume collection, which includes manuscripts and rare books, is biblical, classical, medieval, and modern periods of Jewish literature and history.


Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) from Isfahan (Iran), 1856.

Latin American Collection

The Latin American Collection includes materials chiefly in the social sciences and the humanities, published in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Substantial collections of Latin Americana can also be found in other collections throughout the campus.


Statue of the Aztec goddess Teoyaomiqui (Coatlicue). Illustration from the book Photographic views of North America (Detroit, ca. 1897–1924).

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