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THE GENERAL CATALOGUE OF PRINTED BOOKS, 1881-1981 A. H. CHAPLIN ON 30 April 1881 George BuIIen, the Keeper of Printed Books, laid before the Trustees of the British Museum the first printed part of the catalogue of books in his depart- ment. When completed twenty-five years later, the catalogue, containing about two million entries, became^and remained for half a century—an essential work of reference in the major libraries of the world as the most comprehensive record in existence of printed publications of all periods in European languages. In a modified form with additions it still retains much of its importance and is still in use in the library. The material contained in the printed volumes was not new: it had been compiled over a period of more than forty years. It was in April 1834 that the Trustees decided to produce a new alphabetical catalogue to replace two existing catalogues, one of the main collection, printed in seven octavo volumes in 1813-19 and kept up to date by manuscript additions in two copies mounted on large paper and interleaved, the other a separate and independent catalogue of the King's Library which had come to the Museum in 1823. The Keeper, Henry Baber, who, with Henry Ellis, a former Keeper who was now Principal Librarian, had compiled the octavo catalogue, submitted a plan which would have produced a complete printed catalogue of the whole library as it then stood in about eight years. His plan involved the appointment of three additional Assistants to revise the manuscript slips of the two catalogues and the appointment of one of the existing Assistants, Antonio Panizzi, as editor to control the whole operation. The Trustees, however, influenced by Ellis, who was convinced that the work he and Baber had done twenty years before needed no revision, declined to appoint an editor or to increase the staff by more than one Assistant, and so created a situation in which progress with the catalogue was very much slower than had been intended. A conflict developed between Panizzi, who became Keeper in 1837 and had a clear idea ofthe sort of catalogue that would be worthy ofa great national library and attuned to the needs of serious scholars, and the Trustees, with Ellis in the background, who thought that a 'useful' catalogue on conventional lines with which they were familiar, could be produced quickly with little effort. 109

THE GENERAL CATALOGUE OF PRINTED BOOKS, 1881-1981 · THE GENERAL CATALOGUE OF PRINTED BOOKS, 1881-1981 A. H. CHAPLIN ON 30 April 1881 George BuIIen, the Keeper of Printed Books, laid

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Page 1: THE GENERAL CATALOGUE OF PRINTED BOOKS, 1881-1981 · THE GENERAL CATALOGUE OF PRINTED BOOKS, 1881-1981 A. H. CHAPLIN ON 30 April 1881 George BuIIen, the Keeper of Printed Books, laid

THE GENERAL CATALOGUE OFPRINTED BOOKS, 1881-1981

A. H. CHAPLIN

O N 30 April 1881 George BuIIen, the Keeper of Printed Books, laid before the Trusteesof the British Museum the first printed part of the catalogue of books in his depart-ment. When completed twenty-five years later, the catalogue, containing abouttwo million entries, became^and remained for half a century—an essential work ofreference in the major libraries of the world as the most comprehensive record inexistence of printed publications of all periods in European languages. In a modifiedform with additions it still retains much of its importance and is still in use in thelibrary.

The material contained in the printed volumes was not new: it had been compiledover a period of more than forty years. It was in April 1834 that the Trustees decidedto produce a new alphabetical catalogue to replace two existing catalogues, one of themain collection, printed in seven octavo volumes in 1813-19 and kept up to date bymanuscript additions in two copies mounted on large paper and interleaved, the othera separate and independent catalogue of the King's Library which had come to theMuseum in 1823.

The Keeper, Henry Baber, who, with Henry Ellis, a former Keeper who was nowPrincipal Librarian, had compiled the octavo catalogue, submitted a plan which wouldhave produced a complete printed catalogue of the whole library as it then stood inabout eight years. His plan involved the appointment of three additional Assistants torevise the manuscript slips of the two catalogues and the appointment of one of theexisting Assistants, Antonio Panizzi, as editor to control the whole operation. TheTrustees, however, influenced by Ellis, who was convinced that the work he and Baberhad done twenty years before needed no revision, declined to appoint an editor or toincrease the staff by more than one Assistant, and so created a situation in whichprogress with the catalogue was very much slower than had been intended.

A conflict developed between Panizzi, who became Keeper in 1837 and had a clearidea ofthe sort of catalogue that would be worthy ofa great national library and attunedto the needs of serious scholars, and the Trustees, with Ellis in the background, whothought that a 'useful' catalogue on conventional lines with which they were familiar,could be produced quickly with little effort.

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Panizzi held firmly to the view that all the title-slips had to be compared with thebooks, that the revision must be closely supervised by a single editor who would controlstandards and ensure consistency, and that the whole catalogue must be prepared inmanuscript before printing was begun. He preferred indeed that the catalogue shouldnot be printed at all, but completed and maintained in manuscript, on the groundsthat a printed catalogue would be out of date when it appeared and that the publicwould be unlikely to buy such a large publication listing mainly 'common andcomparatively insignificant books'.* He was overruled by the Trustees, who insisted inDecember 1838 not only that the catalogue should be printed, but that printing shouldbegin in the following year. Protesting that a catalogue produced in this way wouldabound in errors and omissions and would be discreditable to the Museum, Panizzihad to accept the decision and reorganized the work accordingly.

A large part of 1839 was taken up by a dispute about cataloguing rules. The Trusteesasked to see the rules laid down by Baber in 1834. These were a set of sixteen verybrief general instructions which left many details to be settled as the work proceededby the supervising editor Baber had not been allowed to appoint. In communicatingthem to the Trustees, Panizzi revealed that he had disagreed with Baber on onepoint —the cataloguing of anonymous books. Feeling the need for a rule which couldbe applied with certainty and consistency by different cataloguers, he preferred to entersuch works under the first word of the title rather than, as recommended by Baber,under 'some prominent or leading word',^ and he had recently given instructions thathis preference should be followed. The Trustees were alarmed by this departure fromtraditional practice, and ordered that no alteration should be made in Baber's ruleswithout their permission. Panizzi easily demonstrated that Baber's instructions wereinsufficient by themselves, and proposed that a complete set of rules should be drawnup and submitted to the Trustees for approval. The result, after several months ofdrafting by Panizzi and his staff and discussion with a committee of Trustees, was anelaborate set of ninety-one rules. On anonymous books there was a compromise bywhich the heading adopted would be the name ofa person or corporate body, or anyother proper name, representing the subject of the book or appearing in its title, butthat if there were no such name the heading would be the first substantive or, failinga substantive, the first word. The rest ofthe rules laid down principles for the formof authors' names to be used in headings, for the transcription of title-pages, for thecataloguing of some special categories such as periodicals, almanacs, liturgies, andeditions of the Bible and its parts, and for the arrangement of entries.

The most important innovation was the entry under societies, institutions, and othercorporate bodies —as if they were authors—of the publications issued in their name.The corporate names were not, however, to be used directly as headings, but assubheadings under the places where the bodies were situated or had their headquarters.A peculiar complication, not followed in later codes, was the separation of 'learned'bodies under a special heading ACADEMIES, which appears to have been borrowed from theKing's Library catalogue, which has a heading ACADEMIAE ET SOCIETATES. Entries under

n o

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this heading were to be arranged in a classified order, by continents, countries, and towns.These rules were the first systematic cataloguing code to be compiled and published,and their influence can be traced in all subsequent codes elaborated in the English-speaking world.

They were approved by the Trustees on 13 July 1839 and were printed in the firstvolume of the catalogue, containing the entries under the letter A, which appeared inJuly 1841 but was not followed by other volumes. The Trustees were unable to persuadePanizzi to provide any more copy for printing, and in December 1847, after furthercontroversy in which Ellis was involved, they at last authorized him to proceed with'the completion of a full and complete catalogue in manuscript'^ without mention ofprinting.

The revision of the old manuscript slips continued steadily under Panizzi and hissuccessors and was completed in 1861. Meanwhile a new system had been devised forkeeping up to date the working catalogue used in the Reading Room. As the quantityof accessions grew, the insertion of manuscript additions in their correct order involvedthe erasure and re-transcription of great numbers of entries and often of whole pages.By 1849 considerable arrears had accumulated and a more efficient system was urgentlyneeded. Adopting a suggestion made almost simultaneously by the Museum's binder,Charles Tuckett, and by E. A. Roy, one ofthe transcribers who copied accession entriesinto the interleaved catalogue, Panizzi started a new catalogue of accessions made upof moveable slips transcribed in triplicate by means of carbon paper and attached toblank leaves by a thin strip of paste along their upper and lower edges. Three copiesof these volumes were maintained, one for the Reading Room, one for the use of thestaff and to replace volumes of the Reading Room copy temporarily removed for theinsertion of additions, and one for the incorporation of entries in the correct order andto serve as a model for the other two. In 1851 the transcription of revised entries fromthe old catalogue was begun, and these were progressively combined with the accessionsto form what was known as the New General Catalogue. The process of amalgamationinvolved a process of 'final revision' to remove discrepancies between the two series ofentries, and had still only reached S in 1875 when the question of printing was revived.

Proposed first by the Civil Service Inquiry Commission as a means of saving money,by eliminating the labour of transcription, it was rejected by the Keeper, W. B. Rye,and by his successor George Bullen, appointed in July 1875, as unlikely to achieve thisend. Both thought that printing should be deferred for a few more years until therevision of the catalogue was completed. The printing of all future additions to thecatalogue was, however, strongly urged by two members of the staff, E. A. Roy, nowin charge of final revision, and Richard Garnett who had just become Superintendentof the Reading Room. Roy's argument was that staff occupied by the mechanical andunrewarding task of transcribing would be released for more valuable work, Garnett'sthe more convincing one that printed slips would occupy much less space than transcribedslips, and their use would slow down the growth of the catalogue which now filled over2,000 volumes and threatened to outgrow the space available for it.

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Outside the Museum there was growing interest in the idea that a published BritishMuseum catalogue would be of great service to scholarship. The idea that it mightform the basis for a universal catalogue, if supplemented by information supplied bythe governments of other countries, first suggested by C. W. Dilke in 1850, had beenrevived by the Royal Society of Arts, and was supported in 1877, at least as far as theEnglish part of such a catalogue was concerned, by the newly founded LibraryAssociation. In 1879 the Society of Arts, having failed to make progress with itsambitious international project, suggested that the British Museum catalogue shouldbe printed and that this could be done by Her Majesty's Stationery Office in the spaceof five years.

Meanwhile at the British Museum, Panizzi's friend and immediate successor,John Winter Jones, who had supported Rye and Bullen, had retired from the positionof Principal Librarian and was succeeded by E. A. Bond, the Keeper of Manuscripts,who was strongly in favour of printing the catalogue as soon as possible. Basing hiscase on Garnett's argument he persuaded the Treasury to authorize the printing of allfuture accession entries and of the entries for the General Catalogue that had beenrevised but not yet transcribed.

The printing of accessions began in 1880, and it became possible to incorporate atleast four new entries in the space formerly occupied by one. In the next year, usingthe same arguments. Bond secured Treasury approval for the printing ofthe contentsof whole volumes which were filled up and would otherwise have had to be split,re-laid, and rebound. The first printed part, containing the entries under sets of initialsbeginning with B, was completed in February 1881.

This was the beginning ofa process which, treated as a normal part ofthe Department'swork and without any appeal to the Treasury for extra expenditure, would resultaccording to Garnett's calculation in the printing ofthe whole catalogue in about fortyyears. By the end of 1882 twenty-seven parts, replacing more than 100 of the oldmanuscript volumes, had been printed. The entries were arranged in double columnson pages of folio size. Headings were printed in bold capitals, with authors' forenamesin small capitals and distinguishing epithets in italics. They were repeated if necessaryat the head of a column, but not for individual entries. The typography and layoutwere admirably designed to ensure legibility and ease of consultation.

Now that the Treasury was committed to a printing programme of indefinite duration.Bond thought it practicable to put forward a plan for printing the whole catalogue inalphabetical order. This was approved in November 1882, and in spite of Bullen'sdoubts was put into operation by Garnett without waiting for the final revision of allthe old titles.

The fact that the initial purpose of printing had been simply to save space meantthat each volume had been printed as it stood, with all the accessions that had beenincorporated in it up to the time of sending it to the press. To gain the maximumadvantage from printing it was necessary to continue this practice, with the consequence,as Garnett clearly saw, that the longer the printing took the greater would be the

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quantity of material to be printed. He therefore decided against any general revisionor change of rules and made it his objective to finish the printing by the end of thecentury. The whole catalogue therefore conforms, with only slight variations, to Panizzi soriginal rules of 1839 and the archaic and inconvenient practice of identifying I withJ and U with V was not removed. Garnett did, however, encourage a better organizationof important headings with large numbers of entries. Each of these was assigned to aparticular cataloguer who was given discretion, within Panizzi's general principles ofarrangement, in devising a suitable system of subheadings. Garnett insisted that speedshould take precedence over consistency and minute accuracy, and maintained a fastrate of production, looking through all the proofs himself and reaching as many asthirty-eight printed parts—8,658 columns comprising over 160,000 entries—in a singleyear, 1885. When he became Keeper in 1890 and passed the editorship to A. W. K.Miller more than half the catalogue was in print. When he retired in 1899 only a fewlarge and complicated headings—ENGLAND, FRANCE, LITURGIES, and part of BIBLE—

were unfinished, and all were completed in 1900. The deficiencies due to the spread ofprinting over twenty years were remedied by a supplement produced between 1901and 1905 and containing all the entries, whether main titles or cross-references, thathad been written before the end of 1899 but not included in the printed parts. Thewhole catalogue, including the supplement, was obtainable for less than ^100(Ll^- 10̂ - for subscribers from the beginning) and copies were distributed free to publiclibraries in the United Kingdom.

Each part, as soon as it was printed, was used to replace the corresponding volumesofthe transcribed catalogue. Panizzi's system of maintaining three copies was continued,but with printed accession slips attached in the space beside single printed columns ofprinted entries or on blank leaves inserted between them. This system had thedisadvantage that in fast-growing parts of the catalogue a column might be followedby several leaves of accessions, so that the presence of two parallel alphabetical seriesof entries, 'column' and 'accessions', could be overlooked by an uninstructed reader.A catalogue in this form was nevertheless regarded in the Museum as greatly superiorto the card catalogues then coming into use elsewhere, as occupying less space andalso, by displaying a number of entries simultaneously, facilitating the search for aparticular heading or title and showing the range of available editions of a work.

By 1928 the catalogue had been out of print for ten years and there was evidenceofa strong unsatisfied demand for it, particularly from America. R. F. Sharp, Keepersince 1924, put forward a proposal for a new edition brought up to date and revisedthroughout in accordance with the current rules. He believed that the necessary editorialwork could be carried out by the existing staff and that sales could pay for the cost ofprinting, so that the catalogue could be produced without meeting financial obstacles.He estimated that it would be 50 per cent larger than the previous edition and wouldfill between 160 and 165 volumes of 500 pages each, which he suggested might beproduced at the rate of two a month, so completing the catalogue in seven years.

It is difficult in retrospect to understand how production in so short a time could

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have been thought realistic. It was twice modified in statements put out by the Depart-ment in the following year—to fifteen volumes a year in the circular inviting subscriptions,and to twelve in the final prospectus of December 1929—but nothing remotely approach-ing even the last figure was ever achieved. The prospectus announced that the cataloguewould conform to the latest cataloguing rules, that I and J and U and V would at lastbe treated as separate letters, and that the heading ACADEMIES would be abolished; alsothat accessions would be included in each volume up to the time of its printing. Onthe basis of 400 subscribers, the price was fixed at £3 per volume or £400 paid inadvance for the whole catalogue. The subscriptions of 200 libraries in the United Statesand Canada received a 20 per cent subsidy from the Rockefeller Foundation. In May1930 the Treasury announced a grant of 25 per cent to 'public libraries in this countrysupported by the rates and libraries of Universities and University Colleges receivingsupport from public funds'.* This new edition ofthe General Catalogue became knownin the Department as 'GK IF, the K, for catalogue, derived from the Greek originalof the word, being borrowed from the mark chosen by Panizzi to show on the title-pageof a book the heading under which it had been catalogued. The term 'GK I' wasapplied to the earlier edition, both in its form as published and as embodied, with itsaccessions, in the working catalogues.

During 1929 six Assistant Keepers began work on preparing the copy which consistedof the original manuscript slips (known as 'titles') from which the old catalogue andits accessions had been printed, amended where necessary. The application of thecurrent rules meant that all books catalogued before 1880 and a substantial proportionof those catalogued between 1880 and 1900 had to be sent for, and the AssistantKeepers, trained in more rigorous standards than those ofthe previous century, foundmany unexpected defects and inconsistencies in the old entries. Early in 1930 W. A.Marsdcn, who had succeeded to the Keepership at the beginning ofthe year, issuedinstructions designed to limit the amount of revision to be done, but early in 1931,with one volume in print and the second in the press, felt obliged to report that themost that ct)uld be produced with six editors was four volumes a year, an estimate\shich in its turn proved over-optimistic. The Treasury, which so far had made nocontribution, would have to be asked for more staff. Three additional Assistant Keeperswere appointed, but heavy demands made on the staff by arrears in the cataloguing ofaccessions prevented the annual output of revised volumes from rising above two. Helpcame from the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries, which in its firstreport, issued in 1933, urged that the catalogue should be treated as 'a unique activitydeserving of special consideration, independently of the normal activities and financesofthe Museum'.-^ Encouraged by this report the Trustees asked for and obtained twentyadditional cataloguers. These were to be paid at a lower rate than Assistant Keepersand were designated 'Temporary Assistant Cataloguers'. Their qualifications wereindistinguishable from those required of Assistant Keepers, and it was understood thatvacancies in that grade would normally be filled by them. A number of them subsequentlyattained high rank in the Department or achieved distinction in other occupations.

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While they were being recruited and trained there was a modest increase of output tobetween four and five volumes a year, but the much greater increase that was expectedto follow was prevented by their removal to various forms of national service on theoutbreak of war in 1939. A much reduced staff managed to produce ten volumes inthe next six years.

After the war the Assistant Cataloguers who returned became Assistant Keepers andthose who did not were replaced by a new group of Assistant Cataloguers, drawn thistime from entrants to the Civil Service executive grade. While arrears of cataloguing,a rising intake of new books, a sustained effort to replace several hundred thousandvolumes lost by bombing, and increased public demand on the library's services absorbeda large proportion of the reconstituted staff, revision of the catalogue was continuedby a mixed team of Assistant Keepers and Assistant Cataloguers. Frequent changes inthe membership of the team, with the consequent need to train new recruits, and thefact that executive-grade cataloguers were found to be less productive than AssistantKeepers kept production low, and in the years 1948 to 1950 the annual output of ateam of six was found to be only one and a half volumes, less than the annual growthofthe material to be printed. Meanwhile demand for the catalogue, even in its unrevisedform, had been sufficient to justify the publication by J. W. Edwards of Ann Arbor,Michigan, of a photographic reprint of the 1881-1900 catalogue and its supplement.Clearly a new approach was needed.

It was calculated that at two volumes a year it would take 400 years to finish thecatalogue, but that it could be completed by the end of the century with a staff oftwenty-seven Assistant Keepers devoted entirely to this task. The recruitment andtraining of such a staff would clearly be difficult, the space at the disposal of theDepartment could not accommodate them, and it was uncertain whether the printercould cope with the extra work. Nevertheless the Principal Keeper, C. B. Oldman,who felt strongly that the high standards of accuracy and scholarship embodied inGK II were of great value and reflected credit on the Museum, urged that every effortshould be made to persuade the Treasury to provide the staff and accommodationneeded. He was reluctant to put forward the bold alternative suggested by F. C. Francis(later Director of the Museum, but then one of two Keepers in the Department) thatthe attempt to revise the catalogue should be abandoned and replaced by a photolitho-graphic reproduction ofthe material already available within the Library in the workingcatalogue. As well as all the accessions from 1900 onward, this embodied the contentof the old catalogue, but only partly in its original form: it had been improved by thereorganization and reprinting since 1905 of a number of important headings, and bycorrections made by cataloguers to innumerable other entries, of which some had beenreprinted and others had been altered in manuscript. In November 1953, after muchdiscussion in the Department during which the slow process of revision continued, areport setting out the alternatives was presented to the Trustees, who chose the photo-lithographic reprint.

It was decided that this edition, unlike GK II, would reproduce the whole catalogue

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as it stood on a particular date—31 December 1955; there would be no addition ofaccessions during publication. A detailed plan for the marking of entries in one of thethree copies ofthe catalogue to show their correct order and their removal and remountingin page form, followed by photography, printing, and binding, was approved early in1955, but its execution was delayed for another four years. The first obstacle was theunexpected refusal of the Treasury to authorize expenditure on the project. Althoughthe Trustees pointed out that the scheme would be self-supporting, they did not obtainauthorization to proceed until June 1957. Meanwhile a prospectus had been issued,backed up by an energetic publicity campaign conducted by Francis in the form ofarticles in library journals and addresses to library organizations on both sides of theAtlantic- The general response was favourable, and the Rockefeller Foundation agreedto continue its support to American subscribers.

In July 1957 tenders from printers were received. Clowes (the printers of GK Iand II) and two other printers submitted estimates which included mounting the materialin page form as well as photography, printing, and binding, but attention wasconcentrated on the tender of Messrs. Balding and Mansell who proposed an entirelydifferent method of production and estimated a much lower cost. They suggested thatthe entries in the existing catalogue volumes, without any rearrangement, could bephotographed in the correct order on continuous rolls of film. A camera which couldexpose successively the varying lengths of film required by individual entries orcontinuous blocks of entries had already been designed and they expected to be ableto begin photographing the catalogue in September. Their tender was accepted, subjectto the negotiation of a satisfactory contract.

By the end of the year Balding and Mansell were ready to start work. To avoid anincrease in the British Museum's staff, they agreed to employ temporary staff for themarking of the entries, who would work under the direction of an Executive Officerfrom the Department of Printed Books. The start was delayed, however, by difficultiesover the contract. An attempt to draft in detail the technical requirements of thereproduction process proved difficult and time-consuming and was abandoned early in1958, but discussions on other points continued and the contract was not signed untilthe beginning of December 1958. Work could still not begin, because during the delaythe printer had been obliged to disband his special temporary staff and had to engagenew recruits. Meanwhile copy for the first twenty-five volumes had been preparedwithin the Department, and after a slow start due partly to technical hitches with thenew camera, the first eight volumes were dispatched to subscribers in October i960.From January 1961 the remarkably high planned rate of eight volumes every twomonths was maintained. Before distribution began the number of subscribers hadreached 469, and the financial success ofthe enterprise was assured. The whole cataloguein 263 volumes, known as GK III, was completed in July 1966. The Principal Keeperwas able to report with considerable satisfaction that all the 750 copies printed hadbeen sold before publication was completed, and that transatlantic sales had broughtin no less than a million dollars.

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Publication had started with volume 52, because many ofthe subscribers were alreadyreceiving GK II, of which the last volume, no. 51 (DENMARK-DEZ), had been issued in1954. The photolithographic reprint of volumes 1-51, with accessions to the end of 1955,appeared after the rest of the catalogue, in 1965 and 1966.

These fifty-one volumes were free from the defects inherent in the method ofproduction of the catalogue, because they were produced entirely from recent copy.The GK II volumes had been recently revised and the accession entries printed since1932 had been designed with their possible use in a future enlarged edition of thecatalogue in mind. The heading of each entry had been printed on a separate line, sothat when photographed without the heading it could blend imperceptibly with entriesunder that heading in GK II. The material reproduced from the older part of thecatalogue, on the other hand, suffered from a number of defects. In GK I the firstentry under each heading was printed with the title run on from the heading, and thisstyle had also been followed in the individual accession entries printed from 1880 to1931. In the photolithographic reprint, repeated headings on the entries being reproducedwere obliterated, with the result that in many entries the first line of the title beginsat a distance from the margin. Subheadings are affected in a similar way. Where thereare many of these under one heading they may appear, according to the source fromwhich they are taken, in a variety of forms—as cross-headings in italics or small capitals,or in italics beginning at the left-hand margin or at some other point in the line, andsometimes sharing a line with part of the title of a particular publication. In additionto these visual anomalies much bibliographical information added in GK II during therevision, such as pagination and publishers' names, is wanting; the old method ofcataloguing books published in series by means of cross-references instead of mainentries, often lacking dates of publication as well as pagination, persists, with other out-of-date forms of cross-reference such as those giving one entry only under the subjectof a biography rather than one for each edition. Many of the old entries had, however,been improved in the working catalogue by corrections and additions in manuscript.Where these were not easily legible, or extended outside the area that could bephotographed, they were rewritten clearly and legibly within that area or if this wasnot possible, the whole entry was reprinted during the preparation of the copy.

In spite of its obvious defects when compared with the high standards representedby GK II, the completion of the catalogue was warmly welcomed and its publicationin so short a time was acclaimed as a notable achievement. The copies printed wereinsufficient to satisfy the demand and in 1967 a 'compact' edition, in which each pagereproduced four pages of the original, was published in twenty-seven volumes byReadex Microprint Corporation, New York.

To provide purchasers of the catalogue with a means of keeping it up to date, anew method of dealing with accessions after 1955 was devised. The distribution ofmonthly accessions lists was discontinued. Instead, a few copies were printed on papergalley-slips which could be cut up and pasted into the laid-down volumes, and theentries were also printed from the same type on cards. A complete file of the cards

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was kept in the Reading Room and another was preserved as the basis for supplementsto the catalogue. A ten-year supplement covering the years 1956-65 was producedphotographically by Balding and Mansell and published in fifty volumes in 1968. Thiswas followed in 1972 by a five-year supplement for 1966-70 in twenty-six volumes. Ina third five-year supplement (1971-5) the size of the reproduction was reduced andthe entries were arranged in three columns, so doubling the number of entries to apage and containing the whole in thirteen volumes, published in 1978-9. The 1968ten-year supplement, reproduced in five volumes, was added in 1969 to the Readexcompact edition of the catalogue.

The fifty-one volumes of GK II undoubtedly represent the highest point reachedby traditional British Museum cataloguing based on Panizzi's rules and improved bymodifications gradually introduced between 1880 and 1900 and carried further byrevised rules published in 1900, 1927, and 1936. The failure to complete the cataloguein this form in a reasonable time is much to be regretted. But after 1950 there werestrong internal reasons for disposing of it quickly. As long as publication remainedunfinished it was impossible to introduce into the cataloguing system extensive changeswhich were needed to bring British Museum cataloguing into line with generallyaccepted practice and so to make co-operation with other libraries and organizationspossible. The combination of the cataloguing of English books in the Museum withthe production of a national bibliography had long been felt to be desirable, but whenin 1950 the British National Bibliography was created, the divergence between BritishMuseum rules and the Anglo-American cataloguing code made it necessary for thebooks deposited in the Museum under the Copyright Act to be catalogued twice bydifferent systems. After the completion of GK III it became possible to introduce theAnglo-American rules into the British Museum, and entries following these rules appearin the ig66 70 five-year supplement. After the creation ofthe British Library in 1973the cataloguing of copyright deposit books for the Library and the Bibliography wasunified in the British Library's Bibliographical Services Division, and since 1975 theentries for these books have been included in the international MARC (machine readable)record and the Library's catalogue for accessions now takes the form of computer-produced entries on microfiche. The old General Catalogue now contains entries forall books catalogued before the end of 1975 and entries made later for books publishedbefore 1971. In this its final form it is once more being republished, this time not bythe British Library but by independent publishers. A photographic compilation of GKHI and its three supplements, with the additions for pre-1971 books, is being issuedjointly by Clive Bingley and K. G. Saur and at the time of writing has reached itsseventy-eighth volume (DAVIE-DECCA). The entries for the pre-1900 material between DEZ

and the end ofthe alphabet still remain in their old form and are unlikely to be revised.Their conversion to machine readable form, making possible such operations as listingbooks by date of publication and selection by title, is, however, thanks to machinescapable of optical character recognition, now a real possibility.

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1 Report from Panizzi, 17 Nov. 1837, in Report of 3 Trustees' minute, 11 Dec. 1847, in Royal Com-the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Con- mission. Appendix, p. 448.stitution and Government of the British Museum 4 Trustees' minute, 10 May 1930, in Department(London, 1850), /̂>/>en(̂ (x, p. 151. (Cited as Royal of Printed Books, Minutes and Reports (1930),Commission.) fol. 90.

2 'Catalogue of Printed Books. Rules to be observed 5 Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries,in preparing and entering titles', in Royal Com- First Report (London: H.M.S.O., 1933), p. 17-mission. Appendix., p. 167.

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