If the Widener reading-room is a palace of gloom by day--and there have been rumors to that effect--by night it has all the gay warmth of Grent's Tomb. For the most part this condition is due to an antique system of illumination, which, to call faulty, is sheer flattery.
It is redundant to dwell upon the harm done by inadequate lighting. The barrage of the utility companies' advertisements during recent years must have opened all eyes to these dangers. Although the library committee seems to ignore it, the age of dimly-lighted libraries went out with the arrival of such innovations as daylight bulbs and indirect illumination. Nor are these inventions the extravagant, terrifying arrangements that Harvard must believe them to be. That they are desirable impresses any student who has to spend a long period of time stooped across one of the tables in the reading-room trying to bring his book under the elusive rays shed by early-American bulbs from beneath dark metal lampshades.
It will be agreed that the one table in the reading-room on which modern illumination has been installed shows clearly how important proper lighting is. Even if, as the library officials say, this table is a sort of experimental station to determine the most desirable system of lighting, there is no need to delay so long. All necessary tests could easily be made in two or three weeks at the beginning of the year. It should not be necessary to remind the library committee that the place for relics is in the Treasure Room.