The Beinecke Library contains Yale University's principal rare books and literary manuscripts and serves as a research center for students, faculty, and other scholars. One of the largest buildings in the world devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts, the library can accommodate 180,000 volumes in the central tower and more than 600,000 volumes in the underground book stacks.
The library sits within a 200-foot by 350-foot plaza surrounded by Neo-classic and Gothic style buildings. Below the plaza are two levels. The lower one contains mechanical equipment and a large book stack plaza; the upper one features a smaller stack space, catalog and reference room, a reading room, staff offices, and a sunken court designed by Isamu Noguchi.
The entrance lobby at plaza level is glass-enclosed and, upon entering, reveals a vast exhibition hall. Wide twin flights of stairs connect to the floor below and the exhibition balcony above. In the center of the hall are six stories of illuminated book stacks.
The structural facade of the hall consists of Vierendeel trusses that transfer their loads to four massive corner columns. The trusses are composed of prefabricated, tapered steel crosses covered with gray granite on the outside and pre-cast granite aggregate concrete on the inside. Fitted into the bays between the crosses are panels of white, translucent marble that admit subdued daylight into the library while blocking the heat and harsh rays of the sun.