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ON account of the increasing number of books and the poor accommodations for reference and study, it was proposed, about five years ago, to enlarge Gore Hall, but through lack of funds the project was abandoned for the time. At length it has become absolutely necessary to make some addition to the stacking room, as the increase of volumes has been very rapid within the last few years, many of the books coming from the bequests of Charles Sumner and Dr. Walker. Under the present librarian, who was appointed assistant in 1825 and again in 1841, and in 1856 was appointed librarian, the number of volumes has increased from 50,000 to 155,000. These, together with the libraries of the various schools, make up a library surpassed by only two in America, the one at Washington and the Boston Public. In the last report of the examining committee before the Board of Overseers, it was recommended that the students in history should have greater facilities for reference to and the study of the historical portion of the library, which is known as the most complete in the country. The necessity of the occupying of the alcoves by those in the bibliographical department has long been a great hindrance to the instructors in matters of reference. Accordingly it has been voted to enlarge Gore Hall.
The plan for enlargement proposed now, which is the same that was handed in five years ago by Ware and Van Brunt, the architects of Memorial Hall, is to extend the eastern wing of the present building eighty-eight feet, which addition will make the length of the entire wing between one hundred and one hundred and five feet. The main room in this wing will be thirty-four by seventy-nine, and will have a capacity for stacking upwards of 150,000 volumes. Of the two plans proposed for stacking the books, the one which proposes to divide the stacking-room into alcoves will give but three hundred and fifty six feet on one level for stacking while the other plan, which is to stack the books in shelves placed in the body of the room, running width-ways, with passages two feet wide between each shelf, and connected by a set of shelves running at right angles through the middle, gives eight hundred and eighty-four feet. The objections to the inconvenience in referring to books, caused by the narrowness of the passages, are overcome by the placing of desks opposite the end of each passage, at which one can sit and read. The lighting of the room will be by a skylight running the whole length, and around the room will be three galleries for stacking, with eight feet studding between each gallery. The width of the main part of the wing is about thirty-four feet, but the ground-floor is to be extended nineteen feet on the south side, and will run the length of the wing. This portion of the building will have a lean-to roof, and is to be divided into three rooms and a vestibule. The most easterly room, the dimensions of which are eighteen by twenty-six, is to be occupied by the librarian; the room next to this, going west, will be the assistant librarian's, dimensions nineteen by ten; and the rest of this ground extension will be taken up by a room, nineteen by forty-six, for the bibliographical department, and a vestibule, twelve by twenty-one. The entrance to this vestibule and the library will occupy the place in the east wing which corresponds to the place of entrance now used in the west wing. At the summit of the steps leading to the entrance will be a large platform. The old door is to be closed, and we shall be heartily glad to get rid of the inconvenience undergone in getting in and out of the building. A corridor, which will be lighted by windows from above, will run the length of the wing between the main room and the rooms in the ground extension, and will end in an entrance opening east. The older portion of the east wing, with a few feet of the new portion, will be made into a delivery and catalogue room, thirty by thirty-four, which will be surrounded by a balcony and lighted from above by large windows.
What is now the main room in the building will be furnished for the accommodation of those who wish to study and read, and the books in the alcoves will be mostly those of reference. The alcoves will probably be closed,-except to the privileged, by a railing running around the room, and will be unoccupied, the shelves that cover the windows being removed to admit the light. The present reading room will be divided into small study-rooms for the convenience of those who, in their studies, require table-room for a large number of books. The basement will be used for binder's room, storage, etc. The great number of books and the increasing number of borrowers require an entire change in the system of delivery. One of the plans of delivery which is proposed and probably will be adopted is that used for the delivery of books not to be taken from the building in the Boston Public Library.
And so, at last, while we eagerly look forward to the changes which shall put an end to all the complaints against our library and its system, we can exclaim, "The crescent promise of our spirits hath not set."
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