The Pope and the Labyrinth

Harvard has seemed a pretty run-of-the-mill (albeit well-funded and excellent) university—until today. The search to complete my class readings for tomorrow without buying the book led me the the steps of the Widener Library. It was not until this moment that I understood the whispered phrase “the hallowed halls.” The steps up to the doors are many and wide, spanning the entire front of the building. There is, however, only one single set of double doors by which you can enter the library on that face, unless I missed a door that was hiding in one of the many Grecian columns.


For my fellow bibliophiles out there (which means most of you, I think), the Widener is awe-inspiring. I’m no slouch at navigating various systems of book organization, especially when I’ve got call number in hand, but this library has what looked to me like a modified Library of Congress organization that includes the “Old Widener System” and the “New Widener System,” the housing of which is distributed throughout level 1-4, A-B, and East vs. West, which are all apparently somehow accessed by the same single elevator. And if you do manage to, on the first try, pick out where you’re supposed to be heading in this maze, you get to walk through row upon row of silent and dark stacks.


Let me tell you—if a murder ever happens at Harvard, I bet it would be in those stacks. True, everyone is supposed to swipe their id before entering the stacks, but then, who would ever find the body?


On a less-dark note, I found a work-study job! I now get to staff the desk at the Language Center which is, apparently, one of the best jobs for sitting and studying while you work. It’s not in the same part of campus as my classes are, so I jumped on Google maps to figure out how far I would walk on an average day of work-study and class. I was amused to find that my route looks like a mile-long line drawing of the Pope’s hat.

3 thoughts on “The Pope and the Labyrinth

  1. Awe
    Aren’t those moments of awe wonderful? There has GOT to be some message in the shape of your work/study route:) Did you ever read the DaVinci Code type books?


    1. Re: Awe
      I did read both of Dan Brown’s most notables, and all I can say is that I hope no serial killer is using my route to work to plot the cleverly-clued murder of numerous pope would-bes.


  2. I’m so glad you got a workstudy – and one that will let you study the whole time, too! The library at my school is considerably smaller than yours, but they make up for it by having a thousand or more cookbooks. :D


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