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Wrapped in its dreamy mantle of Victorian ivy, Widener Library is sweetly oblivious to the world of current affairs. Today's newspaper is as hard to find in Widener as a note of optimism in a Hardy novel. There is indeed a small alcove in the periodical room which is devoted to the newspaper, where yesterday's New York Times can be read after a considerable wait. Other dailies of doubtful importance may be had slightly more than a week after publication, and one, it seems, can't get past the fatal fascination of October 13. Back numbers, or rather, further back numbers, gather dust in the inaccessible stacks.
Slightly different is the situation in the Boston Public Library. Every important journal in the country and a representative group of foreign papers, as up to date as modern transportation will allow, are arranged geographically in the spacious newspaper room. In a part of the building which is not guarded as though under quarantine, bound editions from London, Paris, New York, Boston, Springfield, Chicago, San Francisco, and even Atlanta may be viewed at leisure. Be the explorer a genuine antiquarian, he will be shown priceless colonial papers kept in fireproof cases. The contrast between the two systems is discernible. One is good, the other bad, completely inadequate. The powers in Widener have obstinately refused the suggestion that a Hearst paper, for historical purposes only, be kept on file. They have ignored the mumblings which may be heard any morning in the periodical room.
A simple remedy cannot be prescribed for Widener's disease. The outlay of current information, which is distinctly humbled by that in the Union and many House Common Rooms, demands a complete and intelligent reorganization. Until the officials realize that things are happening today as surely as they happened a hundred years ago, there will be a large gap in Widener's dissemination of knowledge.
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