Returning to the gallery, we enter Bates Hall by the central door, at a point where its fine proportions make immediately their full effect. It is two hundred and eighteen feet in length, forty-two feet wide, and fifty feet high. The ceiling is an elliptical arch, with half-domed ends, and the rich mouldings of its coffers are accentuated by delicate shades of colorivory and pale green. The cornice bears the names of famous men from Homer to Newton in golden letters. Dark marbles encase the stately doorways; but the walls are of sandstone, and their gray tone, which is the predominant one, unrelieved by any striking ornament, seems at first severe in its simplicity. There is nothing which catches the eye at any single point; but, sitting down to read, one soon perceives this to be intentional, and discovers that these quiet, well-subdued surroundings are most appropriate to the uses of the place. The light is superb, yet there is no glare, no obtrusive detail to distract the mind. This is the reference reading-room of the library, and its seven thousand volumes are free to all who care to take them down, without the intervention of an attendant.
At the southern end, always open for consultation, is the card-catalogue of all the books contained in the building; any one of these will be furnished upon application, and brought from the main library to the designated table at a few moment's notice. There is room for hundreds of readers to sit here from early morning to a late hour of the night in undisturbed pursuit of knowledge.
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