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While the general student body may not be alert enough to realize it, Widener Library has been making steps forward in the last few weeks toward the eventual goal of providing genuinely adequate service to the undergraduates. Not the least of the factors making for improvement has been the realization on the part of those who are responsible for Widener's destiny that the students are vitally interested in their collection of books, a realization that has been brought home to the staff with dramatic force by the knowledge that the Student Council is considering looking into the entire situation.
But despite the efforts of the operating force to improve the efficiency of the book-getting mechanism, there are a few major changes in routine that ought to be effected before the Library can look for great strides. First is the rule by which members of the University are allowed to charge books for a month at a time. Of large Universities Harvard stands practically alone in letting books go out for such a long period, the usual length being two week and one week time limits. When a book is charged out for a month at a time, the student is tempted to dawdle in using the book and to keep it out up to the limit through sheer inertia, while others who may need the book in short order are told that it is out, due back in a month.
Another cause for complaint that has reached loud proportions during the last week is the feeling among undergraduates that professors and tutors, who are allowed to take books out for as long as they desire, subject only to an annual spring check-up by the Library, are holding books longer than they have any right to them. Although it appears beyond reasonable doubt that most professors lean over backward to return books promptly for which there has been any demand, it is nevertheless true that some instructors in the University have built up tremendous aggregations of library books in their own private quarters, and that they frown on any attempt of undergraduates to wrest away these treasures.
These are two of the weak spots in the Widener system which it would not be hard to remedy, and more of the same kind are likely to appear. But if the Student Council keeps after the situation, and with the officials of the Library now awaking to the possibilities of making the College library amount to what its name implies, the hopes for better, swifter, and more complete service are improving every day.
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