DURING the past two years the changes at Gore Hall have caused necessarily so much noise and confusion as to demand great patience and forbearance on the part of all who used the Library. Those students whose electives obliged them to study there worked under special disadvantages, and justly felt that they were deprived of many of the benefits a library should give. Complaint, however, was useless, because, until the extension was completed, relief was impossible.
The building is now finished, many of the books have been moved to the new part, and already the Librarian is considering certain plans for the comfort and profit of students using the Library. It is proposed to enlarge the reading-room, to give students free access to more books, and to open the Library in the evening. Though these changes are at present only contemplated, they are of such obvious advantage that they doubtless will be carried out as soon as circumstances will allow.
The space now given to the reading-room is small, noisy, and poorly lighted. In its place we shall have the whole of the old hall, including the alcoves; and this will be lighted from above as well as from larger windows at the ends. The present noise will cease when the workmen are withdrawn; and we shall then have a roomy, quiet reading-room, where work will no longer be at the risk of blindness.
Each alcove is now divided by a set of shelves, but these shelves will be removed and study-tables substituted; the students will then be given free access to the books in these alcoves, - a privilege long desired and of obvious benefit. Moreover, it is proposed to devote each alcove to some special department, filling it with books upon the subjects of that department, and thus making it a favorite working-place for men pursuing such studies. Here they will find a thousand or more volumes which they can consult at will, together with various aids to their particular study, and the companionship of congenial minds.
The chief obstacle to this plan is the expense of providing books for the alcoves. It would not do to have these books taken out, for this would hinder the very purpose for which the alcoves were fitted up; nor would it do to fill the alcoves with the books already in the Library, for this would hinder our present chance to take out books. It would be necessary to purchase duplicates of books already in the Library, and, in addition, many new volumes needed in special studies; this would involve an expense that the authorities would hardly think justifiable at present.
There is a chance, however, to help ourselves somewhat in this matter. We have been discussing for some time the foundation of an historical society to provide books for the use of students in history. The society could have no better place for its library than one of these alcoves. They would thus escape the expense of a room, of gas, and of a librarian, and would have advantages which a separate building could not give them. In this way one of the twelve alcoves could be filled. Then, too, several of our College societies have libraries which they might, perhaps, be willing to use for this purpose. Their books would then be in a fire-proof building, would be properly cared for, and of doubled usefulness. The Yale societies have made such a disposal of their libraries, and if our societies did the same, it would be recognized by all the students as a generous act. I make these suggestions because I feel sure that if we in any way can fill part of the alcoves, the College authorities will be ready to fill the rest.
With such increased conveniences for quiet study, the importance of opening the Library in the evening becomes greater than ever. That the Library would then be much used cannot be doubted. Many courses cannot be studied with advantage away from books of reference, and students taking these courses are now forced to suspend work upon them during the evening. Then, too, all students would form the desirable habit of making use of the Library, if during these winter days that use were not restricted to the few hours of daylight. The introduction of gas into the building increases the liability to fire; but other great libraries have found it prudent, so there can be little hesitation on that ground. It is safe to say that before long Gore Hall will be open evenings.
While these changes are under consideration we ought, as far as possible, to make known our feeling about them. Much as the wishes of undergraduates seem to be slighted, they are of importance, and if freely stated will have influence in College matters.