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PREFACE.

SOME may perhaps think that these Observations might more fitly have been submitted to the Bodleian Curators at the ensuing meeting; and there was a time when I should certainly have thought so myself. But the experience of the last year or so has convinced me that it is perfectly idle to discuss any technical matter with my colleagues. They have their own notions with regard to books, and they very naturally cling to them; the consequence is that I can hardly understand their views, and am quite sure that they cannot comprehend mine. Moreover, as I explained more than a year and a half ago (see Remarks on the Practice and Policy of lending Bodleian Printed Books and Manuscripts, p. iv), the Curators have let me know that they dislike my lengthy papers, and no wonder. Even if I read out these Observations, and even if the Curators had the time and the patience to listen to them, there is no reason, judging from the past, to suppose that they would produce any useful effect. It would after all be necessary to appeal to Convocation, so that the simplest and shortest way of proceeding is to come before Convocation at once.

September 21st, 1888.

H. W. C.

S.

THE BODLEIAN CLASSED CATALOGUE.

NEARLY three years ago, on November 7th, 1885, the Bodleian Curators received a report from the Librarian asking for an increase of staff, and a few days later they received from me a printed Memorandum concerning that request in which the following passage occurred: "Who tied the millstone of a classed catalogue round the Librarian's neck, I do not know; but the classed catalogue and all the work which it entails is so much labour thrown away. No real scholar, no man who is capable of literary research, wants a classed catalogue; he hates the very sight of such a thing; it serves no useful purpose; it is a snare and a delusion. The sciolist, and he alone, thinks how delightful it would be to turn out any given subject and there see all the books that have been written on it. He does not know how impossible the thing is, or what mischiefs result from the attempt to compass such a work. Most French catalogues are classed, and he who has had the ill luck, as I have, to consult them, retains a lively sense of detestation for those who were foolish enough to class the books. How is a man, it will be asked, to know what books have been printed on this or that? The answer is that every man fit to be admitted to a great library knows many ways of acquiring this information. Could men of real knowledge be consulted, I am quite sure that a large majority, if not all, would infinitely prefer the alphabetical arrangement under authors' names, to the best classed catalogue that could be devised. Let it be observed that I say classed catalogue. Could all these

useless duplicate slips be dispensed with, there would be a very considerable diminution of needless work and of needless expense.' On reflection, not being quite certain that this would be intelligible to all the Curators, or, to speak more correctly, being certain that it would not be intelligible, I wrote the following privately printed Memorandum dated Dec. 1, 1885:

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"In the Memorandum of Nov. 10th I made some remarks on the Bodleian Catalogue, and as there is reason to fear that in being brief I became obscure, the Curators will, I hope, pardon some further observations. The matter is unfortunately a little technical; and perhaps not every man has had an opportunity of learning those details, without a knowledge of which a correct judgment can hardly be formed. A full and adequate discussion of the whole question in all its bearings would require a pamphlet, possibly a book; but it would be folly to write and print what few would care to read and digest.

"The existing Bodleian Catalogue visible to all on entering the library is contained in more than seven hundred large folio volumes, in which the books are entered under authors' names alphabetically arranged. Of this catalogue I may have something to say on a future occasion; at present I am concerned with another known as the Subject or Classed Catalogue, in which the titles of our printed books are to be arranged under classes, sub-classes, and so on. Such an arrangement is with some books easy, with others difficult, with many impossible: some go quietly enough under one class, some under two or three, some under many, and some utterly defy all attempts at classification. 'My dear Sir,' says the man whose ideas of books are hazy, 'you are really very obtuse, you make difficulties where none exist; the thing is exceedingly simple. Put all your theological books together, put all your law books together, and so on; range all the Histories of England,

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