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Widener Buys Reading Machines For Inspection of Rare Documents

Manuscripts of Early English Works Come to Library on New Micro-Film


Radical change in library methods in the future was foreseen yesterday by Keyes D. Motcalf, director of Widener in announcing the acquisition of two reading machines and the immediate creation of an extensive film library.

Termed by Metcalf "the most important thing that's happened in library work in a long time," the new method will enable Widener to secure copies of books and manuscripts which it would be impossible to buy. Inter-library exchange of valuable works will be facilitated, and the difficult problem of proserving newspapers will be selved by filming them.

Old English Manuscript

A notable beginning of the film collection has just been made with the purchase of photographic copies of an important collection of English manuscripts prior to 1550, which is a property of the British Museum.

For purposes of inter-library exchange, Widener has been putting some of its rarer books on the new micro-film for several years. However, since no machines were available for projecting the films, there was no benefit to Harvard from the exchange plan. Now it is expected that the film service will be a valuable aid to faculty members engaged in research since it will throw open to them the major libraries of the world.

Success in New York

Undergraduates are not likely to have much use for the reading machines until a larger collection of films become available. Pointing to the success of the venture at the New York Public Library, Motcalf envisaged a time when every part of the Widener would be supplied with projectors and films would constitute a large part of the library's service.

The reading machines are recent inventions which were first displayed at the Business School last spring. They are electric and come equipped with several lenses to use with different sorts of reading matter.

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