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Six Ivy League are in the process of establishing to central storage library to take little-used research volumes off their own shelves and make a gland pool of material available to all scholars.
Keyes, D. Metcalf, director of the University Library initiated the project in 1948, and the other five librarians delegated him last month to draw up the first set of concrete proposals for presentation at their fourth meeting, scheduled for some time in April.
Representatives from the Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Columbia, as well as the Library of Congress and New York Public Library have agreed to four principles for the storage library:
Accessibility is Crucial
1. It will be situated along the main coastal railroad line for easiest access by all contributors.
2. Participating institutions will finance all its activities.
3. The library will conduct active cataloguing operations, develop exhaustive special collections and advise members to avoid duplication on buying.
4. It will be open to visiting researchers and will maintain an "overnight" lending arrangement, filling mailed requests within 24 hours.
"Universities may grow each year arithmetically," Metcalf says, "but libraries grow geometrically." A research library doubles its size every 20 years, according to Metcalf.
All of the six university libraries considering the project have more than 1,000,000 volumes. Cornell's and Pennsylvania's collections are so cramped that new buildings are already on their way. Yale and Columbia are running short on space, but have enough for at least two or three years' growth at the present rate.
Princeton is in the best shape, with its recently constructed $6,500,000 building. Harvard, Metcalf says, has room for another nine or ten years' accumulation, but a new central library at that time might cost $25,000,000.
The planning committee for the cooperative storage library has not decided on any figures or definite commitments, but Metcalf predicts the first building will be built to house close to 2,000,000 volumes. It will be designed so it can he easily expanded and connected to additional buildings in the future.
Rarely Location Likely
The library will probably not be located in the same city as one of the contributors, to avoid the possibility of jealousy for the prestige it would bring. At this stage it seems most likely a country site will be chosen to allow unlimited expansion at low land prices.
Membership will be open to all major libraries in New England, New Jersey, and eastern New York and Pennsylvania. Brown, Dartmouth, M.I.T. and others are being kept fully informed on plans. Operating costs will be shared by members at a ratio representing number of books deposited and number used.
With a central storage library in existence, member libraries could exhume from their stacks books infrequently used which are too valuable to be thrown away. They would be sent to the central plant, where duplicates would be eliminated.
Build "Great" Collections
Two collections Harvard might contribute, Metcalf says, are these of the languages and literature of the Frisian Islands, and books of Icelandic origin. Two other universities have Icelandic collections, which could be grouped together as the greatest such collection in America.
Metcalf had a successful precedent when he proposed the project to the other institutions. He was the leader in 1942 in setting up the New England Deposit Library, in Allston, for the use of Harvard, Tufts, Boston College, Boston University, Radcliffe, Simmons, M.I.T., Boston public Library, Boston Medical Library, Boston Athenaeum, Massachusetts State Library, and Massachusetts Historical Society.
90 Percent Full Already
When the N.E.D.L. was planned, the Carnegie Foundation was asked to furnish a construction grant. It refused, commenting, "Libraries never cooperate." Construction went ahead on Harvard funds, for a building with 1,000,000 volume capacity. It is now 90 percent full.
"We should have planned for this 40 years age," Metcalf said at its completion. Keen competition between libraries with each trying to build up its own collection has resulted in duplication that was in many cases "just plain silly" he said.
Midwest Fellows Suit
A similar storage library is at present being designed to be constructed on the University of Chicago campus. When ton Midwestern universities got together to draw its basic plans, the Carnegie Foundation, convinced by the New England Deposit Library's success, was among the agencies giving financial support.
Another milestone in the development of inter-library cooperation was the establishment in 1948 of the American Association of Research Libraries "Farmington plan."
Under the plan, 54 research libraries (including Harvard) now accept all current books published in nine foreign countries in certain assigned fields. There more countries will be added this year. The 250 assigned fields cover almost every book published.
Over Half were Lost
The plan was formed when a check through the union catalogue of the Library of Congress--a file of 12,000,000 volumes in libraries throughout the nation-revealed that less than half the foreign publications were going into American libraries, while those that were arriving were frequently duplicated in many libraries.
Under the "Farmington plan" each new book is listed on a card and sent to the Library of Congress catalogue. Researchers can either use this catalogue or contact directly the library specializing in a particular subject.
The South and the Pacific Coast need central deposit libraries at this time, Metcalf says, since 80 percent of the research volumes in the country are in the Northeast and Midwest.
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