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The main research library of the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard University. It is named after a Harvard alumnus, Harry Elkins Widener, who died on the Titanic.1

The main stairway has some truly unnerving paintings memorializing U.S. soldiers who fought in World War I and who "with one embrace clasped Death and Victory."

  1. The ship, not the movie.

The Harvard Library System houses the second-largest collection in the United States (only the Library of Congress is larger, by about 10 million volumes). Widener Library is the largest of Harvard's libraries, with over 65 miles of shelf space that can hold over 3 million volumes.

Built in 1915 by Eleanor Elkins Widener, in memory of her son Harry Elkins Widener '07, Widener Library was designed by architect Julian F. Abele, considered one of the first major black architects in the United States.

Widener Library has a diverse collection, although its focus is on literature and history, "with particularly distinguished holdings in folklore, German, Latin America, Americana, history of Canada, English literature, British history, French history including local histories and topography, and Greek and Latin classical writers."1

The stacks in Widener Library are incredibly creepy and subterranean. Don't go in alone at night if you're easily frightened. Seriously. There are probably axe murderers in there. However, it is also tradition for Harvard students to have sex in the Widener stacks at least once during their career at Harvard. Many do. Some can't get aroused with the smell of musty books all around. Some get off on it. To each his own.

  1. Widener Library Website - http://hcl.harvard.edu/widener/about/collections.html

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