Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/55

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PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THEIR CATALOGUES

more Britannico, to an inquiry into the state of the British Museum, which would at that time hardly have been granted upon public grounds. From that inquiry dates everything that has since been done. Some not very judicious changes in the administrative machinery of the Museum were the chief ostensible results, but the real service rendered was to create a consciousness in the public mind of the deficiencies of the national library—strengthened no doubt by the contemporaneous disclosures of the condition of the public records. The way was then prepared for the truly great man who assumed office as Keeper of the Printed Books in 1837, and whose evidence had mainly created the impression to which we have referred. To the administration of the British Museum, Sir Anthony Panizzi brought powers that might have governed an Empire. Sir Rowland Hill is not more thoroughly identified with the penny post than Sir A. Panizzi with the improvements which have made the Museum what it is, and not merely those affected immediately by himself, but those which owe, or are yet to owe, their existence to the impulse originally communicated by him. In 1839 the Museum received from Sir A. Panizzi and his assistants its code of rules for the catalogue—the Magna Charta of cataloguing. In 1846 the enormous deficiencies of the Library, as ascertained by prodigious labour on the part of the librarian and his staff, were fairly brought to the knowledge of the nation. In 1849 Sir A. Panizzi's multitudinous reforms were tested and sanctioned by one of the