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New Library Head Has Difficult Task, Coordinates System of 4,000,000 Books

Metcalf Announces No Changes, Will Spend Fall "Getting Acquainted"


"What I don't know about this library would fill a large book." So said Keyes D. Metcalf, newly appointed Director of the University Library, whose task it will be to coordinate the entire system of Harvard books and pamphlets, numbering around the 4,000,000.

A quiet, likeable man, Mr. Metcalf was cornered in his imposing office on the right wing of Widener as one enters the building. "There will be no changes of any kind this fall," he said. "I shall spend the first months getting acquainted."

One of the country's outstanding library administrators, Mr. Metcalf was formerly Chief of the Reference Department of the New York Public Library. He succeeds Dr. Robert P. Blake, who has been Director of the Library since 1928 and who has resigned to devote more time to research and teaching as Professor of History here. Dr. Blake was recently appointed French Exchange Professor from Harvard to the Sorbonne for the second half of the current academic year.

When questioned as to the rumors that the cataloguing of Widener books is not up to par, Mr. Metcalf declared that, since the library takes in over 350 new volumes a day, complaints about the speed of cataloguing new books are unavoidable. He revealed that Widener alone has a staff of 50 persons who spend all their time cataloguing. Some volumes, the cataloguing of which has been held up for a long time, will not be catalogued, he said, if it does not seem worthwhile. He also mentioned the method of "short cataloguing" used on certain books for which the demand is very limited.

In any case, Harvardians can be assured that their book problems will be in the hands of a capable man. For Mr. Metcalf has worked his way from the ground up in the library profession. A graduate of Oberlin College in 1911, he took his diploma from the Library School of the New York Public Library in 1914.

Beginning his library work as a page and student assistant in the Oberlin College library, Mr. Metcalf was made Executive Assistant in 1912 and Acting Librarian and Instructor in Bibliography in 1916. He was assistant in the main reading room of the New York Public Library in 1913, Chief of Stacks 1913-16 and 1917-18, Chief of the Order Division 1919, Executive Assistant, Office of the Director, 1919-27, and Chief of the Preparation Division 1927-29. He has been Chief of the Reference Division since 1928.

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