The Projected Printed Catalogue of the Bibliothèque Nationale

JOHN MACFARLANE
1895 Library  
ON Christmas Eve of last year the Commission appointed by the French Ministry of Public Instruction to investigate the condition of the manuscript subject catalogue of the National Library, and the desirability of printing it, brought their labours to a close. They were able to report on the first count that the catalogue was complete, and on the second, that it should be printed, but in the form of an author-catalogue. The deliberations and decisions of the Commission bear, as might be
more » ... as might be expected, a strong family likeness to those of the Commission and Committees that presided over the conception and birth of the British Museum catalogue. It was generally recognised that what was expected from a catalogue was " to know at once whether a given work exists, to get at its exact title, and the press marks denoting its position." No subject-catalogue, it was felt, could arrive at these results, so the printing of an author-catalogue was resolved on, and a detailed plan of operations drawn up. The first, and indeed the only striking contrast apparent between the Paris and London catalogues is that the former will be divided into three parts : (i) Works of which the author is known ; (2) Anonymous works, periodicals, and those published by bodies (ouvres emane'es de collectivite"s); (3) Groups of special works. Let us examine these in detail with reference to the British Museum catalogue. (1) The Commission lays great stress on the necessity of distinguishing between different people bearing the same name, but the assiduous care bestowed on the Museum catalogue in that respect will leave them little to do, except in the case of the works of French writers, in which, of course, tbe Bibliotheque Nationale is immeasurably richer. The Museum practice of adding an index to the large headings is to be more freely used, and, moreover, whenever there are more than ten entries in a heading, they are to be numbered. This seems advisable, but how will the additions be numbered in future years P (2) Here is the little rift that has made music mute in so many catalogues-the question of Anonyma. The general rule laid down by the Commissioners is to take the first word of the title, omitting the article. This is the simple fashion which the exasperated reader at the Museum blindly recommends, when he has searched in vain for an anonymous book. Behold, however, in the next paragraph of the Report the inevitable exceptions. " The cataloguer shall, as a rule, take his heading, not from the first vague line of the title, but from the name which serves as special designation." Thus the thousands of books relating to people and places are cut off at one fell swoop from the operation of the general rule.
doi:10.1093/library/s1-vii.1.49 fatcat:wg22m73rnjhdtew77jlbzvb7ye