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Lamont Healthy on First Birthday

By Rudolph Kass

One year ago today the University dedicated Lamont Library, and last night, Phillip J. McNiff, director of Lamont, took time out to reckon the credits and debits for the library's first 12 months.

By and large, he and his staff thought the Lamont experiment has fulfilled President Conant's statement of a year ago that the open stack system was "a long step forward and a good step backward to a simple past . . . when college libraries were easy of access."

A 20 percent increase in the use of books at Lamont over Widener indicates the success of the new structure, McNiff feels. Students took 94,840 overnight books out of Lamont last year as against only 72,625 circulated from Widener in 1948.

More Books Borrowed

The average student in the academic year 1949 borrowed ten books from Lamont. He borrowed 14 from Widener the year before, and took only 11 in 1939. Librarians think an increased seriousness in the college student and the incorporation of the Boylston and Union libraries into Lamont partly account for the trend of these statistics.

One major headache, book pilfering, has plagued the Lamont open stack system in its infancy. McNiff groups three offenses under pilfering: book hiding, book hoarding, and book theft. Officials spotted an instance of the last misdemeanor the week before Christmas vacation, and the Dean's Office severed the connections of the two students apprehended.

"Only a small percentage of the students miscue the library," McNiff said. "The great majority are good lads." Lamont, however, intends to adopt no more coercive rules such as the messenger fee for late books (which "has helped a lot" according to McNiff). "We hope for more good faith among students in the future," McNiff said.

Next to book pilfering, mutilation of books and especially exams, has been a severe sin of library users.

Every four months or so during Lamont's first year. Radcliffe agitated to be admitted into the functional interior, but library authorities hold firmly to their mono-sexual policy of "Radcliffe has its own books," the Harvard officials say.

Some suggested that exams be put on closed reserve during exam period, but McNiff said that would necessitate hiring additional help. "This would not be a good way to spend money. Students should realize that by mutilating or stealing examinations, they are harming only themselves."

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