Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/130

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ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

catalogue of that library which most nearly approaches universality as a basis, and we must appeal to the administrators of other libraries to supplement its deficiencies; without insisting upon too rigid a uniformity of method, which could not be enforced.

While the project for a Universal Catalogue has remained in suspense, another catalogue has been silently growing up in print, far enough indeed from universality, but approaching it more closely than any other work of the kind. Commenced in 1881, and likely, if the Treasury grant is continued, to be completed at or a little before the close of the century, the printed Museum Catalogue will be the register of about a million distinct publications. If its contents do not comprise a majority of the books existing in the world, they undoubtedly comprise a very great majority of the books which it is really important to catalogue. My recommendation to those who desire to see a Universal Catalogue—as all do in theory—is to accept this confessedly imperfect catalogue as a temporary substitute, and labour to perfect it by the co-operation of the principal libraries throughout the world, not by reconstruction, which would introduce confusion and delay the undertaking indefinitely, but by the simple addition of such books in their possession as the Museum Catalogue does not embrace. This would further involve the establishment of some central authority to edit these accessions, either incorporated with the Museum