YMI – The Existential Question or a History of Names

A brief history of the different names of the library:

  • Apprentices Literary Association – August 1, 1826
  • Young Mechanics Institute – November 28, 1828
  • New Haven Young Men’s Institute – 1840

The legal name is still the New Haven Young Men’s Institute, although it is mostly referred to as the Institute Library.

The Centennial Committee wrote in its 1926 report, “It immediately became customary to drop the New Haven in our title, and the recollection of your committee even the Young Men’s has disappeared from common usage and we exist under the appellation ‘The Institute.’”  The committee also noted in its report that the Y.M.I. title began appearing in the records as early as 1846.

“It’s the existential question the library asks itself – Why am I? – Y.M.I.”  The library’s fearless leader/executive director, William C. Baker, enjoys this play on the name.  But it’s an excellent question for the library to ask itself, especially during this time of reintegration into the New Haven Community.

The Board of Directors, Will Baker, the rest of the library staff, and the numerous members and volunteers are doing a wonderful job working to answer the question as to why New Haven needs the Institute and why the Institute needs New Haven by preserving the history and engaging with the community.

I’ll write more on the history of the institution and the current community engagement later.