Ornamentation is very important to the overall appearance of the Sterling Memorial Library. The sculpture and stained glass programs, approved by the Committee on Decoration, were the result of recommendations by Anson Phelps Stokes, Secretary of the University (1899–1921); architect James Gamble Rogers; University Librarian Andrew Keogh; and library staff.
Sculpture appears at every turn throughout Sterling. The nave has carved bosses and corbels, and carved panels below the windows depict moments in Yale’s history. The sculptures were predominantly executed by Rene P. Chambellan, an American sculptor whose work decorates the Chicago Tribune building as well as Princeton University.
Meeting of the Ministers and pledging the books 1701. In 1701 there was a meeting in Branford to pledge their books to found a college.
Demanding the books in Saybrook 1718. With New Haven Yale’s new home, the school’s books needed to be moved. Saybrook’s citizens were not all in agreement that the books belonged to Yale and tried to prevent the books removal to New Haven.
Alma Mater, the mural behind the Circulation Desk, was painted by Yale Professor Eugene F. Savage, Yale B.F.A. 1924, and installed in 1932. In one hand she holds the sphere of learning and in the other an open book showing the Yale arms. Standing under the tree of knowledge, she is surrounded by symbols of the University’s spiritual and intellectual efforts.