A Plea to Widener
For almost a year, new book-lending rules for students under Widener's IBM cataloging system have been in effect. Previously, undergraduates were allowed to keep books for two weeks and then renew them. Now, books may be borrowed for one month, but must be returned to the shelves at the end of the month before they can be checked out again.
To most undergraduates, who have little cause to keep books for more than a month, the rule is no great inconvenience. The full weight of the regulation falls on thesis-writing seniors. It requires a day to collect twenty or thirty books from the various corners of Widener, check them out, and carry them back to one's House. It requires another day and a half to return them, wait for them to be re-shelved, hunt them down and check them out again. And although it is understandable that in general the Library should wish to have books return to the shelves once a month, many books used for thesis research are frequently in extremely small demand. Because the one-month non-renewable policy is so inconvenient for thesis writers, we wonder, in their case, if Widener would not consider altering its rule.
It would be possible, for example, for a senior to keep a list of the books he had checked out to consult for his thesis. The list of books (including their call numbers) could be presented at the check-out counter each month along with a note from the tutor saying the student was writing a thesis.
This policy would mean that many books rarely consulted would not have to be returned to the shelves each month, taking more than two days of the senior's time and burdening the library staff with a circular traffic of books going in and out to the same people. Nor would the senior be depriving others of the use of these books, which could be called in when requested just as other books are.
We realize this proposal would necessitate some modification of Widener's otherwise well-thought-out book-lending system, to solve a problem the Library perhaps did not entirely foresee. Because of its importance to a significant number of undergraduates, we hope that Widener will find an appropriate solution.