Stop-Gap Measures Ease Pinch in Widener Library

Widener can't wait. Its underground addition won't be ready for several years, and meanwhile the library already owns more books than its shelves can hold.

In order to alleviate overcrowding, Widener has transferred several of its less-used collections--among them 15,000 volumes on angling--to the basement of Littauer Center. Other collections will be moved to the new Ed School library as soon as it is built--probably in 1970-- Robert R. Walsh '65, administrative assistant in the Harvard University Library, said yesterday.

Stacks Converted

Meanwhile six shelf stacks are being converted into seven-shelf stacks wherever the books are small enough for the shelves to be made thinner, and temporary wooden bookcases stand at the end of some aisles to hold the overflow.

In addition to the books the library already owns, the library is buying some 60,000 new books each year, and only discarding 7000. Librarians look through the stacks periodically to remove duplicate copies of books once used in now discontinued courses.


Walsh estimated that the shelves are full to 90% of capacity during the year, but over the summer crowding gets even worse. With 90% capacity, books must often be shifted from shelf to shelf to make room for returned books in the same subject, wasting valuable time and lowering efficiency, Walsh said.