There was no fanfare yesterday, but only the quiet business as usual, when Widener Library opened for the first time ever on a Sunday.
What librarians described as "a medium-sized crowd" of students, faculty, staff members and tourists wandered through the building's reading rooms and 10 floors of stacks yesterday afternoon.
Widener's new Sunday hours--from 12 to 7 p.m. during term time--were approved by the Harvard Corporation last spring, following a three-year campaign by the Undergraduate Council.
At the time, University officials estimated that keeping Harvard's largest research library open on Sundays will cost $200,000 per year. Widener is also open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Although the library was not particularly full yesterday, staff members said the numbers were typical for a Saturday early in the school term. They said they expected Sundays to become busier as more people learned about the Sunday hours and as deadlines for research papers approached.
"It's a lovely day and people want to explore Cambridge," said Barbara A. Burg, reference librarian. "If you took a straw vote asking, 'Do you know Widener is open?' a lot of people wouldn't."
The University has not had to hire many new employees to staff Widener on Sundays. Library staff members working in the building yesterday said they either work there on other days or work in other University libraries.
"It's okay working Sundays. Working nights makes for a long day. Sunday gives you another option," said periodical room librarian Christian C.Titlow, who is a student in the Graduate School ofArts and Sciences.
And students studying in the library yesterdaysaid the new hours were a great conveniencebecause Widener has resources that cannot be foundin the other Harvard libraries.
"Widener has the books you need in the originallanguage," said a senior Russian Languageconcentrator. "I'm very glad they opened itbecause it was a big handicap before. Now youdon't have to scramble for everything before theweekend."
"I'm looking for a book that wasn't on reservein Lamont," explained Lowell House residentChristopher L. DeLong '89. "I'll come here a loton Sundays during the school year."
And Widener's Sunday hours also benefit staffmembers, who do not have borrowing privileges inLamont and Hilles. "I love spending Sunday in thelibrary, epecially during the winter," said NoelT. Kehrlein, a Radcliffe College staff assistant,adding that she was taking out books for aliterature class