Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/64

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44
ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

versus the strictly alphabetical, may, indeed, be considered as decided. The former method may have answered in the library of Alexandria; but the multiplicity of the departments of knowledge in our own day, their intricacy and the nicety with which they blend and shade into each other, render cataloguing solely by subjects a delusion. A catalogue of books on any special subject must either be imperfect, or must contain a large number of entries repeated from other catalogues; while, in any case, the reader can never satisfy himself without a tedious search that the book he has at first failed to find is not after all actually in the library. If, nevertheless, a subject catalogue without a general alphabetical arrangement is often useless, it must be admitted that an alphabetical catalogue without a subject index is not always useful. It is somewhat humiliating for the librarian unprovided with this valuable auxiliary, to find himself dependent upon the classified indexes to the London publishers' list and Brunet's Manuel du Libraire for information which he ought to be able to supply from his own catalogue. Even the Bodleian, we perceive, is about taking measures to prepare an index of subjects, and the Bodleian is a library for scholars who might not unfairly be expected to bring their bibliographical information along with them. The need must evidently be more imperative in libraries which assume a distinctly educational function, and in those which, like the national and most municipal collections, are supported at the expense of the learned and