Widener Library

The Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, housing some 3.5 million books in its "vast and cavernous" stacks, is the center­piece of the Harvard College Libraries and, more broadly, of the entire Harvard Library system.
It honors 1907 Harvard College graduate and book collector Harry Elkins Widener, and was built by his mother Eleanor Elkins Widener after his death in the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.
The library's holdings, which include works in more than one hundred languages, comprise "one of the world's most comprehen­sive research collec­tions in the humanities and social sciences."
Its 57 miles of shelves, along five miles of aisles on ten levels, comprise a "labyrinth" which one student "could not enter without feeling that she ought to carry a compass, a sandwich, and a whistle."
At the building's heart are the Widener Memorial Rooms, displaying papers and mementos recalling the life and death of Harry Widener, as well as the
Harry Elkins Widener Collec­tion,
"the precious group of rare and wonder­fully interesting books brought together by Mr. Widener",
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