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At no time during the year are the reading rooms of the college library in greater demand than during the Reading Period and the examinations that immediately follow it. It would seem only natural that every measure be taken to ensure that they function at the greatest efficiency possible. And yet the fact is only too painfully apparent to all who make use of them that only the most haphazard and unsatisfactory solutions has been devised for one problem of more than slight importance--that of ventilation.
For engineering reasons that are obscure but presumably quite valid, the elaborate forced ventilating system installed in Widener cannot be put to use. Accordingly at present the method employed in the main Reading Room is to open a window wide (for a few minutes at long intervals), thus driving all but the hardiest readers to distant corners, while making no appreciable impression on the temperature of the rest of the room. That the latter is excessive can hardly be denied; ask any student who has experienced the lethargic effects of an hour's reading and has had to endure the ever-present smell of perspiration. And if the main Reading Room is a hot-house, Boylston and most of the smaller libraries in Widener can be compared only to incubators, so rarely is any outside air admitted to temper their torridity.
It is not merely comfort that suffers from these conditions: any doctor could explain the unhealthy effects of breathing super-heated dry air in increasing susceptibility to colds. Furthermore, with decreased efficiency of work the turnover of books is materially slowed down and the congestion at cracial review periods intensified.
Yet suggestions for the remedy of these evils come readily to mind. The installation of draft boards to deflect the current of air upward would make it possible to leave certain windows partly open continuously without any discomfort to those seated near them. A humidifying device of some sort is not as essential but might be practicable without excessive expense and at least deserves consideration. There is certainly no excuse for the totally unsatisfactory condition that now prevails.
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