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Harvard has decided to build a huge underground library structure between Houghton and Lamont to head off rapidly growing shortages of library space.
Both Widener and Houghton are already filled almost to capacity and library officials estimate that in two or three years all the available space for growth will be exhausted. The new facilities are expected to provide enough space to satisfy the University's needs until 1980.
The new structure will probably be built on four levels with a total area of about 100,000 square feet. This is equivalent to constructing a building nearly as large as Radcliffe's Hilles Library entirely underground.
Although planning for the additional library space is still tentative, library officials expect that the cost of construction will be about $5 million. They have already received permission from the Corporation to investigate the possibility of raising funds. Douglas W. Bryant, University Librarian, said yesterday that he hopes some portion of the money will come from the federal government.
For about two years the University has considered building an underground addition to Houghton and Widener, but serious planning could not begin until test borings were made to see if the land was suitable for large-scale construction beneath the surface. These tests were carried out this spring and they showed that the underground structure was feasible.
The library's four levels will probably be divided evenly between Widener and Houghton. Widener's two floors will include not only stack space but also faculty studies and stalls for use by graduate students. All four levels will be equipped with temperature and humidity controls.
One of the major reasons for building the library addition beneath the surface was the desire to preserve the green courtyard between Lamont and Houghton. But construction of the underground structure will be done by excavation rather than tunnelling, so the courtyard will temporarily be torn up.
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