Columbia Library columns (v.2(1952Nov-1953May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.2,no.2(1953:Feb): Page 29  

The Editor Visits Burgess Library

y 11 ^HERE is a lively atmosphere in Burgess, the Library at
I      Columbia which serves the departments of anthropology,

Ji. history, public law, government, and sociology. Even
during the vacation, on the day after New Year's, it gently seethed,
and we were told that in term-time every seat in the big reading-
rooms is taken and there are queues for the catalogues.

We walked around the rooms with the young Librarian, Paul
Palmer, and studied the titles of the books. It was like making a
quick trip around the world, both contemporaneously and back¬
ward in time, for the theme of Burgess is the history and behavior
of all the races of man. But instead of the usual inane guides who
frustrate travellers, one finds there the greatest spirits of our own
and past epochs, eager to conduct the student to uttermost places
and times.

There is nothing static about Burgess. Books constantly come
and go. Professors in some two hundred courses offered by the
Faculty of Political Science specify which titles are to be placed
there for required reading, while the librarians keep weeding out
those which are no longer in demand. Mr. Palmer showed us some
of the bibliography sheets submitted by faculty members, and we
realized that his job was a very interesting one, in that he had the
chance to work with and become f amiUar with materials suggested
by some of the keenest and most stimulating minds in the country
on their special subjects. We also realized that this particular
librarian's task was not always an easy one. What to do, for in¬
stance, about the instructor with only 25 students who asks for
ten copies of a certain volume to be placed on the shelves? Or the
handwritten list with abbreviated, often misleading information?
Or the list which arrives only a day or two before the course is to
begin, requesting rare, hard-to-find items not in the Columbia
collections? Or the young instructor, thrilled with his never-pre-

  v.2,no.2(1953:Feb): Page 29