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Lamont Renovations Not Yet Complete

Project to Update Government Document Division Is Three Months Behind

By Evan G. Stein

A renovation project intended to make the Government Documents, Newspaper and Microtext (Gov Docs) division more accessible has fallen three months behind schedule, library officials said yesterday.

Librarians and students said the renovations already made to the research center slow down research and has made some material--that had to be stored in the Harvard Depository to make room for new documents--harder to access.

They also complained that the new layout--which made Gov Docs two-levels--is confusing.

And the project, which provoked strong objections from students and researchers when it was proposed in 1992, still has no working computer network, librarians said yesterday.

"We were scheduled to get hooked into the Widener Local Access Network (LAN) in December," said Library Assistant Steve Tanner. "But they keep pushing the date back."

Without the LAN the library doesn't have access to popular computer databases such as Lexis/Nexis and Legislate.

"Widener [LAN] is our connection to the [High Speed Data Network]," said Diane L. Garner, the head of Gov Docs. "It's just some wiring in a closet that has to be finished."

Tanner said the network is scheduled to be installed in the staff area within the next couple weeks.

Once the network is hooked up, it will not immediately be available to student because computer consoles are not yet installed in the reading room.

But Richard De Gennaro, Roy E. Larsen librarian of the College, is not fazed by the delay.

"Everything has gone according to or even exceeded our plans," De Gennarro said. "We've gone from an inadequate storage area to a facility competitive with any other in the nation."

In a 1992 statement of goals, De Gennaro wrote that the libraries of Harvard must be "dedicated to the use of books as well as government documents." The Gov Docs reorganization, however, might be working against that goal.

Two years ago, in preparation for the move, a large amount of material from the library was stored in the Harvard Depository. Material in the depository is not freely accessible unless it is requested.

"Keeping the stuff in storage makes it harder for scholars," said Reference Librarian David Paul. "If you're studying economics or business oranother popular department, then the material ishere. But if you study 18th-century France theneverything is in storage. People can't browseanymore."

In addition, Paul complained about the neworganization scheme of the Gov Docs. The plansplit up the collection, putting it on two floors.The bulk of the collection--the "less popular"materials--is still in the Widener sub-basement.

"Climbing up and down two flights of stairsreally slows down the research process," Paulsaid.

Rebecca L. Tushnet '95, a researcher for theHarvard Debate Team, said the organization is alittle disorienting.

"Sometimes you can't locate the microfilm,"Tushnet said. "They have the same numbers on bothlevels."

Gov Docs completed its move from thesub-basement of Widener Library to the renovatedfirst floor of Lamont in September.

Students complained at the time that the newlayout, which is closer to the study halls inLamont, would be too noisy.

Library officials said they have beenmonitoring the volume since September and havepromised to make modifications if it proves to bea problem.

The only change that students and Gov Doc staffuniversally hail is the improvement in working andreading space.

"We now have a comfortable, attractive area.It's a boon for staff and workers," De Gennarosaid.

"It's nice to be able to see the walls," Tannersaid. "Go downstairs and look at the old officespace. Then come up here. Tell me where you'drather work.

In addition, Paul complained about the neworganization scheme of the Gov Docs. The plansplit up the collection, putting it on two floors.The bulk of the collection--the "less popular"materials--is still in the Widener sub-basement.

"Climbing up and down two flights of stairsreally slows down the research process," Paulsaid.

Rebecca L. Tushnet '95, a researcher for theHarvard Debate Team, said the organization is alittle disorienting.

"Sometimes you can't locate the microfilm,"Tushnet said. "They have the same numbers on bothlevels."

Gov Docs completed its move from thesub-basement of Widener Library to the renovatedfirst floor of Lamont in September.

Students complained at the time that the newlayout, which is closer to the study halls inLamont, would be too noisy.

Library officials said they have beenmonitoring the volume since September and havepromised to make modifications if it proves to bea problem.

The only change that students and Gov Doc staffuniversally hail is the improvement in working andreading space.

"We now have a comfortable, attractive area.It's a boon for staff and workers," De Gennarosaid.

"It's nice to be able to see the walls," Tannersaid. "Go downstairs and look at the old officespace. Then come up here. Tell me where you'drather work.

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