The center will bring together much of the University microfiche and microfilm collection.
Currently, the University’s entire collection of microform periodicals is stored in the Government Document and Microforms section of Lamont Library.
The creation of the new center means that much of Lamont’s collection will be physically relocated to Widener, although there are no plans to significantly alter the first-floor space in Lamont, according to Marilyn Wood, the head of access services for Widener Library.
The Widener microtext center—slated for completion by spring 2003—will be on the library’s first floor, in an area currently comprised of a corridor and some office spaces.
No new space will be added, but walls will be knocked down to create an octagonal space directly below the rotunda on Widener’s second floor.
The center will act as a complementary resource to the new periodicals reading room, according to library officials.
“The goal is to bring together the ‘retrospective’ collections on microfilm together with current newspaper issues,” said Jeffrey L. Horrell, associate librarian of Harvard College for collections.
The periodical reading room, open since Nov. 16, contains the more recent editions of the over 800 periodicals and newspapers most frequently used by researchers.
“We hope that our services will be much easier for users to find and use,” said Nancy M. Cline, head librarian of Harvard College. “It’s a lot easier than winding one’s way down to Lamont.”
The issue of bringing older microfilm editions alongside their complementary recent periodicals will be a crucial one in determining which microforms will be moved from Lamont to Widener, library committee members said.
Library officials stressed that no final choices have been made on periodical titles to be relocated.
“That’s a project that bibliographers, library staff, [and] users will be planning over the next month...year...year and a half,” Horrell said.
Phase one of the library renovation—which began in the summer of 1999 and is slated for finish this spring—focused on making the stacks section safer and more user-friendly.
The phase that began yesterday will include renovation of all work spaces in the library, particularly the first and second floors and the B-level basement. It is expected to finish by 2004.
In describing plans for the new use of the space, Beth Brainard, director of communications at Widener, said that a key aspect is to restore Widener Library to its original architectural look.
“Widener has been reconfigured a number of times through the years, so we’re trying to get back to the original use of space,” she said.