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HOUSE LIBRARY REFORM

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

House libraries were instituted with the plan in mind of having books assigned for courses and tutorial reading always available. As a result the selection of books, although it numbers thousands in each library, is almost completely made up of assigned readings; hence the difficulty of lending a book for any period longer than overnight. Another avowed purpose was to have the whole selection in the library at all times to encourage browsing.

A questionnaire circulated in one of the houses asked whether the students wanted a new ruling which would allow house members to borrow books for reading in their rooms. Despite the affirmative wording of the questionnaire, almost 50 per cent answered in the negative, because the realized that under such an all-inclusive plan the House library would become another Widener. Nevertheless, the response, which may be assumed to be representative, clearly demonstrates that there is a strong feeling in the houses that at least some books should be lent out for room use.

A compromise seems to offer the only solution. The libraries themselves, with their present limited budget, can do little more than buy a few new books each year for course and tutorial assignments. However, each library could set aside a nucleus of the best contemporary literature, weeded out of the heterogeneous mass. Such a section in the library, devoted to modern fiction, drama, and poetry, would be the natural place for browsing. In addition, books from these designated shelves could be taken out for perhaps a one or two-week period.

In order to supplement this nucleus, which necessarily would be kept very small in order not to interfere with reading assignments, two suggestions are in order. First, a small contribution of perhaps one dollar might be asked of each House member, or incorporated in the House dues. Secondly, students who have no further use for some of their books, or are interested in the success of the plan, should turn them over to the House committee, which would have the power of acceptance or rejection If House library committees were to carry out these suggestions, neither of which would be an appreciable hardship for the persons affected, an extremely important addition to the library's usefulness would be made.

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