Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/133

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THE BRITISH MUSEUM CATALOGUE

its deficiencies is being steadily prosecuted in a hundred different places; when the editorial committee is fairly engaged upon its task of revision and incorporation, and public sympathy has been fully enlisted, as would ere long assuredly be the case, the record of the world's literature which now may seem to many an Utopian project, will have been brought within reach. In thus carrying it out we should have effected an object of still greater importance—the establishment of an universal literary registry, whose developments and ramifications it is impossible to predict. Such an institution is hardly likely to come into being without the tangible inducement of an Universal Catalogue; and it is on this account, quite as much as its own, that an Universal Catalogue is desirable. The organisation created to effect it would not be allowed to perish, but would be maintained for objects more important still. All these possibilities, however, will remain but visions unless they are based upon the firm ground of some actually existing catalogue, which may serve as a stepping-stone to the ideal catalogue of the future.

Cæteris paribus, there can be no doubt that the biggest catalogue must be the best, and it is on this ground, and not from any claim of superiority of execution, that I venture to recommend the Museum Catalogue as this necessary basis and stepping-stone, and to affirm that the problem of making an Universal Catalogue will be greatly simplified if it is conceived as the problem of supplementing the deficiencies of the most extensive