Harvard College Library

Harvard Community Invited to Widener Rededication October 1

September 30, 2004 -- All members of the Harvard Community are invited to attend the Widener Library rededication on Friday, October 1, at 1:30 pm on the front steps of the library. Lawrence H. Summers, President, Harvard University, and William C. Kirby, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, are hosting the event and both will make remarks along with Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College. Katherine B. Loker, Dareema Jenkins '05, and Matthew Gibson '05 will preside over the ribbon cutting ceremony. An outdoor reception with refreshments will follow in Tercentenary Theatre.

The rededication of Widener Library is in celebration of the completion of an extensive five-year renovation that upgraded the 89 year-old building’s systems and retrofit it for another century of service. Opened in 1915, the library was a generous gift to Harvard from Eleanor Elkins Widener in memory of her son Harry. At that time, the building was considered a state-of-the art facility, in which light and air generously circulated through the stacks. With advances in the field of preservation, light and air and the accompanying dirt and fluctuations in temperature in and humidity were identified as hazardous to the lifespan of library materials. The need to address issues around preservation, as well as user space, security, technology, and programs and services, prompted the renovation.

The project took place in two phases. The first, referred to as the Widener Stacks Renovation (WSR), began in 1999 and was initiated with the goal of ensuring the long-term preservation and security of the collections. Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, humidity control, electrical, lighting, fire detection and suppression, and security systems were upgraded in all ten stacks levels. New study carrels with data jacks and improved lighting were installed. The stacks ranges were refurbished and the 3.5 million books moved, cleaned, and reshelved. With WSR also came the addition of the Phillips and Stacks reading rooms and staff workspace, all built within the two interior lightcourts of the building. The second phase of the Project, aptly dubbed "Phase 2," began in 2001 and involved the restoration of the original architectural features and finishes on floors D through 2, and the creation of new spaces for programmatic use. Library areas were aligned to respond to user patterns and priorities with the busy, noisy, interactive services separated from the quiet major reading rooms.

The Widener renovation was a Faculty of Arts and Sciences/Harvard University project and was guided by two committees: the Planning Committee, which provided administrative and program oversight, and the Building Committee, which coordinated the design and construction.

 


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