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More volumes than are found in any university library in the world are to be The only institutions which may claim found in the Harvard University Library, numerical superiority over the 3,000,000 volumes desposited on its shelves are the British Museum, the Paris Bibliothetique, the Congressional Library, and the New York Public Library.
Over one-half of this number are in Widener Library while the other half are scattered throughout the University in 52 special collections, seventeen departments such as the Law, Medical, and Business Schools, and the seven House libraries.
Freshmen will particularly use the 20,000 volumes in the Union, a collection which has been designated by Professor Copeland as the finest gentleman's library in the United States, and the Boylston Hall reading room for history, government, and economics. Fine Arts students will use the 10,000 books on that subject kept in Fogg Art Museum, while the science concentrators will spend much time in the various laboratory collections.
The Widener Memorial Building, however, is the heart of the whole system. The 67 steps to the delivery room are probably climbed more often than any other stairway except that to the students' dormitories. Most of the books in the whole network are catalogued in this room and the books in Widener are secured there.
New students are obliged to obtain library numbers in the delivery room which allow them to take out three books at one time for one month periods and to use the special libraries.
Getting hold of books is one of the chronic difficulties run into by students at Harvard. Whereas at school one always buys a copy of every book used, at College so many are used that this would be impossible. Therefore, one of the first duties on arriving here is to discover how the libraries work.
Many secondhand books can be picked up in the Square from the second hand book sellers. Other volumes have to be bought new at the Coop. If you have a good encyclopedia in your room at home, it would be well worth while to bring that along for reference.
Many old and interesting books are kept in the archives of Widener. The other day, for instance, Harvard University librarians turned up one reason why the Harvard student body of the Revolutionary War period ran the Reverend Samuel Langdon, President of the College, 1774-80, out of office. His sermons to the students were too long, it is disclosed.
One of Langdon's lengthy sermons manuscripts has been uncovered in the University archives, and has been placed on public display in Widener Library along with other valuable early records. The manuscript is in a private, original shorthand, devised by Langdon so he could compress his notes. In this form, written minutely, the notes fill twenty-four pages. It is probable the sermon required more than two hours rapid talking for delivery, authorities agree. Nobody has yet undertaken to decode the message.
Langdon, who was a classmate of Samuel Adams, and a good friend of John Hancock, was swept into the Harvard presidency on a wave of patriotic sentiment in 1774. But his popularity immediately waned. The new President believed in declaiming on the Scripture for ninety minutes or more at a time, Sunday mornings; soon he discovered this was not enough, and he cancelled the traditional Sunday evening singing services in order "to give more time for his harangue."
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