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As new students are soon to find out and as old students are very well aware the backbone of college education is books, in spite of what they may have been told about the educating influence of human relations and what are mysteriously referred to as "contracts." And this University has 3,479,267 of them, according to the census of 1933, scattered throughout the 76 units that compose the University Library.
This figure makes it the third largest library in the country, exceeded in size only by the Library of Congress in Washington and the New York Public Library with whom it runs a close race for second place in the magnitude contest. In Europe two national libraries are larger, the British Museum in London and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.
Russia's Not So Big
Library officials here are inclined to scoff at figures published in the World Almanac to the effect that Russia has two which far surpass the size of the world's other giant book-stacks, numbering around seven or eight million each.
They conservatively do not doubt the new Russia's sudden literacy but attribute these figures to the consolidation of numerous libraries under one system of administration, involving a great deal of duplication.
But the staff is less concerned with comparative size than with the problem of administering what is already there so that books will be quickly and easily available. To this end the length of time during which a book may be kept out of the library has been reduced from a month to two weeks. This change was made last spring.
Three men who might be called "Question-answerers" but who actually go under the title of Assistants in the Reference Department, have also been odded to the staff under Robert H. Haynes, Assistant Librarian, to help the users of the library locate books.
For the information of new students Widener Library, home of the main collection, was built in 1915, having been given by his mother in memory of Harry Elkins Widener '07, who was drowned in the "Titanic" disaster of 1912.
From a sum of 500 pounds left in 1774 by Thomas Hollis the Library's endowment has grown to about three million dollars. Most of this money is in the form of special bequests, and each year the University must make up a deficit of about $160,000 from its unrestricted funds. Expenditure for books has risen from $633 in 1923 to $59,935 in 1933.
For those who like statistics the following figures should be of interest. The largest collection in the Library is that on American History which contains about 125,000 volumes. Economics has 73,000, American literature 30,000, English literature 85,000, French History 50,000 and English History 40,000. The Angling collection has 11,500 books.
The new student will have to get used to that awesome word Bibliography without which intellectual effort cannot be translated into the all-important marks. And to that end William A. Jackson has come here as an Assistant Librarian (in charge of the Treasure Room and Associate Professor of Bibliography, in which subject he will give a course next year.
The Farnsworth Room, dedicated to pleasing but not immediately purposeful reading, and where no studying is allowed, has been relighted during the summer. New cork flooring has been installed in the main Reading Room and today the last insect bookworms are being cleaned away by vacuum cleaners to make way for the flesh-and-blood ones, the students.
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