Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/73

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53
PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THEIR CATALOGUES

printing may be admitted, though it has hardly been demonstrated. But to print is manifestly cheaper than to print and transcribe also. Yet this is just what the Museum is doing if the catalogue is ever to be printed at all. There are about 250,000 titles for the new catalogue still remaining to be transcribed. To transcribe these at the present rate of progression would occupy about fifteen years, but let us say ten. During this period titles for new acquisitions would be coming in at the rate of 40,000 a year. These would also be transcribed. The total number of transcripts would thus be 650,000. Now it seems to be seriously contemplated by the advocates of a complete printed catalogue that all this enormous mass of careful copy shall in a few years be completely superseded by print, and rendered absolutely useless. After paying, let us say, threepence a slip to do its work, the nation is to pay fourpence a slip more to undo it, and is to be charged altogether twice as much as it need have been if it had known what it wanted from the first. It is, indeed, high time for the representatives of the nation in these matters to determine once and for ever whether the catalogue is to be in print or manuscript. If MS., let the idea of print be authoritatively discountenanced; but if print, let the ruinous system be abandoned of paying highly for work performed only to be undone.

The solution of these perplexities will be found, we think, in a strict adherence to the principle that