Patrons who spend enough time in the Widener Library stacks are accustom to its many large, bright red signs. The signs read “Sprinkler Valve Through Door.” They point to the building’s fire suppression systems, but what they don’t reveal are the many treasures contained within the more than 50 miles of shelving beyond those same passageways.
The signage took new meaning in early 2014 when librarians started a Tumblr blog, named “Sprinkler Valve Through Door,” to act as a window into the collections, spaces and services of Widener.
“I’m hoping people familiar with the stacks get the title immediately and laugh,” said Manager of Reference and Information Services Reed Lowrie, one of the blog’s creators. “For others it will be unusual enough to warrant further exploration.” Lowrie explained that the name resonates with the work of research librarians, who guide patrons through the rich collection of resources at Harvard in the way the signs are meant to guide firefighters.
The Tumblr blog is part of ongoing efforts to connect library users with Harvard’s collections and research, teaching and learning services. What’s more, it makes available images of Widener’s architecture and history to those who don’t have the opportunity to visit.