The present condition of the Library and the present status of all plans for its enlargement are described as definitely in President Eliot's annual report as they are any where. As the best pleas that could possibly be made for help from the alumni and friends of the University, would be a description of the present condition of the Library, the President's report is given below:
"The regular work of the Library in ordering, cataloguing and delivering books goes on with regularity, and the volume of work done steadily increases. Much of it is done, however, under great disadvantages, as has been repeatedly pointed out in these reports. The shelves of the present building have become so crowded, that last spring it proved impossible to find room for the accessions without removing from Gore Hall a large number of the old books. Accordingly 15,000 volumes were boxed and piled up in the cellar of Appleton Chapel, - a humiliating expedient to which the Librarian was simply forced to resort. The same thing will soon have to be done again. No sooner were these books boxed up than some of them were urgently wanted. Gifts and purchases taken together bring into Gore Hall at least 10,000 volumes a year, besides many thousands of pamphlets, and there is now no suitable place to put these acquisitions.
"The graduates and friends of the University should look squarely in the face the deplorable facts about the Library, which is the very core of the University considered as a place of instruction, and should have a building foremost among all the University buildings in architectural importance and in just adaptation to its uses. Such buildings Cornell, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, Michigan, Northwestern, and Kansas universities have obtained within the last ten years; and Columbia is preparing to make her library the central feature of the magnificent group of buildings to be erected on her new grounds. The condition of things in Gore Hall is disheartening and mortifying. The reading room is much too small for the number of readers, is badly lighted, and not ventilated at all; the catalogue and delivery room is unwholesomely crowded all day; and the shelf-room for books is so completely occupied that the proper classification of the books has been arrested with the work half done. The daily work of the Library is all performed at great disadvantage, and in spite of the recent provision of fourteen class-room libraries outside of Gore Hall, the instruction in the advanced courses of some departments is seriously crippled. There is considerable annual waste of labor, and therefore of money, caused by the scattering of books belonging to the same department, and the lack of proper spaces in which to arrange the accessions in the classes to which they belong. The pressing needs are more stacks for books, enlarged quarters for the public catalogue, a spacious delivery room, and a well-ventilated and well-lighted reading-room capable of accommodating 400 readers.
"Eighteen years ago the Corporation, fully realizing the importance of the Library to the development of advanced instruction at Cambridge in all subjects, spent $90,000 out of their very limited unrestricted capital in enlarging the original Gore Hall. The unrestricted funds have never recovered from that abrupt reduction, - on the contrary, they have been still further diminished by occasional annual deficits in excess of annual surplusses. It is impossible for the Corporation to repeat that operation. The whole income of the University from invested funds and from tuition-fees is needed to maintain the present scale of expenditure for salaries, repairs and improvements, general expenses, and the various useful objects to which the incomes of special funds are devoted. Under these circumstances, in the absence of any single benefactor who desires to erect a suitable reading-room and stack, is it not time that the whole body of the alumni and friends of the University should undertake to provide by a general subscription these indispensable means of instruction and research? It is the most comprehensive object for which money can be given to a university; for the Library is needed by every teacher and student no matter what his department. A well organized effort to raise a large fund for this purpose would have the eager support of every member of the University staff, and of every graduate and friend of the University who loves reading, or who understands how indispensable great collections of books are to the steady advancement of learning and the orderly progress of civilized society."