Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/71

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51
PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THEIR CATALOGUES

Catalogue as it stands, merely for the convenience of the public. It is quite another question whether a recourse to print may not be desirable in the interests of the Museum itself, and from this point of view the answer must be widely different. It is desirable, and will shortly become imperative. The reason is prosaic, but unanswerable: the MS. catalogue cannot be much longer accommodated in the Reading Room. Partly from necessity, partly from oversights, the Museum Catalogue is most extravagant in the matter of space. To preserve the alphabetical order of the entries, the titles are necessarily movable, pasted, therefore, on each side of the catalogue leaf, thus trebling the thickness of the latter. It is equally indispensable that wide spaces should be left between the entries when a volume is first laid down, and that when these become insufficient from the number of additions, as is continually happening, the over-charged volume should be divided into three or four. These inconveniences are unavoidable. It can only be regretted that part of the available space of every slip is lost in transcription; that scarcely a single transcriber appears to have studied the art of packing; and that the catalogue is over-run with practically duplicate entries of slightly differing editions, transcribed at full length while they might have been expressed in a single line. From all these causes the Museum Catalogue is rapidly becoming unmanageable, and the time is approaching when the Reading Room will contain it no longer. Something might no doubt be done