Since their opening in 1931, the House libraries have each received $600 annually from the University for purchasing new books. For present library needs this sum is inadequate. When President Lowell provided for libraries in the new Houses, he urged that they contain mainly books for supplementary course reading and tutorial, in order not to compete with the University libraries. Since then, however, the tutorial program has greatly expanded, and House populations have swelled even more. The House libraries have not been able to keep up with this expansion.
But the greatest drain upon book resources has been the growing popularity of phonograph records. Ever since a music-minded Dunster chairman spent the House's entire sum stocking his favorite albums, this portion has been limited to one third of the grant, or $200. Nevertheless, with library committees, always spending the maximum for records, book needs are slighted. Since the original figure of $600 did not take into account these unexpected purchases, the College should now increase its House library grants.
Actually, the present restricted funds handicap some Houses less than others. The most up-to-date libraries need the most money, in order to remain up-to-date. The House which do not try to stay up-to-date do not demand as much, since they do not replenish out-dated books as often. The smallness of the present grant discourages Houses from keeping their books current.
Nonetheless, the College would not solve this problem by giving up-to-date, and thus needy, libraries more money than others. House libraries would then no longer be equal in quality. The Administration has been right in not permitting several Houses to count their special library bequests in addition to the University's grant; it has kept the total resources of all Houses the same. The only extra funds a House has come from its House dues. Yet while these dues should go toward records which members want, instead they are needed to purchase required books.
To solve this problem the College ought not only to give all House libraries more money, but should give the same amount to each. It would thus reward the efforts of the more ambitious libraries and encourage the out-dated ones to develop. The importance of the libraries to the House and tutorial programs more than justifies an increase in their financial support.