Seven White Elephants
One inevitable result of a student body of 5200 is a shortage of required texts in the multitude of University libraries. Though such paucity does not necessarily mean that some volumes cannot be obtained, it requires a man to set aside one or two hours for library haunting to gain a source book. The seven House libraries were originally designed to carry a stock of required books for most courses, and thus to eliminate long nocturnal walks to Widener, Boylston, and the Union. In this capacity the House libraries are actually a dismal failure.
If anyone really needs a book in common demand, chances are good that he will not find it in his House library. It may be that someone in the library is poring over it, but the odds are against this; usually the book is just "missing" or is residing in some tutor's quarters. That tutors in residence may take books from the House library for an entire term is certainly an unfortunate, and possibly a vicious, practice. House libraries are primarily for the use of undergraduates; the fact that he lives in a House is not reason enough for a tutor to be allowed to empty shelves of important books for months at a time. Widener is the University's main library; it is here that faculty members should exercise their privileges of rank.
Widener, which controls the House libraries, would have all believe that their inadequacies are caused by light-fingered local students. No doubt it is a temptation to pick up a book and leave, knowing that in five out of the seven House libraries no one will life a finger to stop you. But the libraries are as much to blame for this situation as are the students. Library monitors are not being paid merely to work at a private desk and maintain the silence of the reading room. They should check all books leaving the premises, as does Widener.
Because of present crowded conditions in the University, one of the cardinal purposes of the House library should be to ease the burden on Boylston, Widener, and the Union, IN prewar days the Houses were designed mainly to provide a supplementary tutorial library, but times have changed. Because of the great demand, some Houses require users of the most popular texts to sign them in every hour so that others may have a turn; but it is hard to get much done when someone is sitting three chairs away waiting eagerly for the end of the hour. The University should change its policy and assign extra copies of vital books to the Houses where they will be in constant use, instead of keeping the whole horde at Boylston on the Union, where it is subject mostly to afternoon and evening rushes. Besides, that long invigorating walk through the cool and healthful night air is highly over-rated.