Breaking a six months' silence, Keye DeW. Metcalf, Director of the University Library, yesterday made his first statement of policy since taking up his duties last September. 'I shall make it my task to increase the efficiency of the library system as a whole," he said, "and to coordinate--not to centralize--the many, many libraries under my jurisdiction."
Coming here from the New York Public Library, Metcalf was visibly dismayed by the complexity of the Harvard College Library, which numbers almost 80 libraries of varying size and scope, and announced that he would spend the first half-year studying the organization of the library.
Having compiled a mass of statistics, Metcalf was yesterday in a position to speak on a question which has long been a matter of dark speculation, just what happens when a prospective borrower turns in his slip at the call desk.
Three Out of Ten Books Missing
Seven times out of ten, the book is forthcoming, Metcalf asserted. Of the books asked for which cannot be obtained, 20 percent are at the bindery, 40 percent have been placed on reserve, and the remaining 40 percent are out. Surprisingly few of the books out are in the possession of instructors. Metcalf revealed.
The law of averages, confirmed by Widener investigation, shows that of the books that have been borrowed, half have been out more than two weeks when demanded, half less than two weeks. For that reason, Metcalf said, the project of limiting loans to two weeks, subject to renewal if no demand had been made, was "being seriously considered." He pointed out, however, that only six percent of the borrowers would benefit from this plan, whereas many would be inconvenienced.
Metcalf disclosed that when he ar- rived, one book in every ten dominated was "not on the shelf," but that since he had appointed a special chaser is handle these "N. O. S." cases, only one book in forty could not be located when asked for. Even this was inefficient, he declared, and for that reason he did not favor more general use of the stacks.
First Professional Librarian
Metcalf, whose post makes him a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is the first trained "career librarian" to have charge of the Harvard libraries. In the past, profession have been appointed to superintend the library administration in an advisory capacity. Faculty men, however, seem to approve of the new efficiency and to find Metcalf easy to work with.
Metcalf stated that he had no bias in favor of trained librarians, and would always get "the best man for the job." He indicated that for some posts it would be imperative to engage men who had studied to be librarians, but that for others, such as heads of music libraries, it would be impossible to find trained men with sufficient knowledge of the field.
Although by this time he has a working knowledge of the system, Metcalf admitted that there were still units in the Library which he had not visited. For some 15 departmental libraries--such as the Medical School library, the Peabody Museum and the Blue Hill Observatory--he has nominal jurisdiction