Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/67

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47
PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THEIR CATALOGUES

Abolition of the Death Penalty" must be entered along with other books referring to the subject under the head of "Capital Punishment." The average reader, however, will not think of looking for it there. He will turn to "Death" or under "Penalty," and, not finding the book under either heading, will conclude that it does not exist in the library. Two cross-references to "Capital Punishment" must accordingly be made for his accommodation; and, after a few generations of literary industry, the catalogue, like the proverbial wood, would be invisible on account of the entries, generally speaking; the cardinal error of plans for dictionary catalogues appears to us to be an excessive deference to the claims of the average reader. Nothing can be more natural, considering that these plans originated in Manchester and were perfected in the United States, where the educational character is much more distinctly impressed upon libraries than in England, and where the appetite for knowledge is as yet in advance of the standard of culture. It is fortunate when the librarian is able to consider not merely what may be most acceptable to a miscellaneous body of constituents, but also what is intrinsically fit and reasonable.

We must hold, then, that the alphabetical index of subjects should be the auxiliary and complement of the Alphabetical Catalogue, not a part of it; that each book should be entered in it, as in the catalogue, once and once only; that the minor indexes should be grouped together so as to form