Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/29

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of the collectors of exceedingly rare literatures, such as the Chatsworth Library, Mr. Huth's, and Mr. Locker-Lampson's. In such catalogues minuteness of bibliographical detail is rightly carried to an extent uncalled for in great miscellaneous catalogues like that of the British Museum, and which, it is to be hoped, may never be attempted there, for if it were it would disorganise the establishment. It is not the business of librarians as public servants to provide recondite bibliographical luxuries. These things are excellent, but they lie in the department of specialists and amateurs, who may be expected to cultivate it in the future as they have done in the past. The limits of public and private enterprise must be kept distinct.

Another question of cataloguing which occupied the attention of the Conference of 1877 was the important one of subject catalogues. In this I am able to announce the most satisfactory progress. In the face of the mass of information continually pouring in, the world has become alive to the importance of condensing, distributing, and rendering generally available the information which it possesses already. Three very remarkable achievements of this kind may be noticed. The first is Poole's Index to Periodicals, with its continuation, a work so invaluable that we now wonder how we could have existed without it, but so laborious that we could hardly have hoped to see it exist at all, especially considering that it is an achievement of co-operative cataloguing. In illustration of the want it supplies, I may mention that it has been