"Harvard," says the World Almanac, "has the largest university library in the world." The 325 commuters who daily make Dudley Hall their center of collegiate operations can only snicker. The Center does boast a room, hypocritically called a library, which houses in its one bookcase a dozen or so catalogues of various graduate schools. But no books, just a dictionary.
In the more affluent pre-war days Dudley claimed a "gentleman's library," but these volumes, being unattended, were soon surreptitiously removed to the homes of a few commuters. Though a more practical library followed, the texts were soon out-dated and no money remained for new purchases. Now, with the demand for convenient books greater than ever, commuters have their choice of buying seldom used texts, or spending long afternoons and evenings in the monotonous environs of Widener when they would rather study, and eat, at home. The 9 o'clock check out (and check in) deadline for reserved volumes practically precludes their home use by anyone living at some distance. Even shelf-books often require a wait of two or three hours, resulting in missed train connections and general scholastic confusion.
Yardlings have Widener and Boylston close at hand; House-dwellers have their own libraries; commuters have nothing but a week old copy of Time. 400 undergraduates live in the average House, and have about 10,000 books at their disposal. While Dudley could hold no such collection, it does have facilities for a nucleus, and more shelves could be easily built to hold a few reference books and the texts used in most undergraduate courses. It's a pretty poor philosophy, or anything else, to ignore a problem when it can't be completely solved.
With the completion of the Lamont Library next year, commuters may find their day-time study hours more pleasant, but they will still be enmeshed in the red-tape of late release hours for books they need. A special card for far-travelling Metro-riders would only reverse the problem, the Dudleyites disappearing with scarce texts early in the day. But a library in the Center itself, especially adapted to the needs of the members, would cure many a local round shoulder. And you can get awfully sick of reading catalogues.