We should like to express a desire that, in the following particulars, the change may come speedily: -
1. As soon as the addition to the Library is completed, the "long cards" shall be at once removed to a place where no student or outsider is admitted without leave. Now these "long cards" compose the only catalogue at all complete. The ordinary cards do not embrace the titles of twenty or thirty thousand old volumes, nor the accessions for the last six weeks (just now no accessions since August 20, and perhaps earlier). As each book costs the Library a dollar to catalogue, - according to a statement in the Boston Advertiser, which has never been denied, - it seems but fair that the persons for whom this expense is incurred should have free access to the best catalogue.
If the long cards should be restored to use, suppose a list of books received, but not yet catalogued, were kept on the delivery desk at all times. Then the two combined would form the first complete catalogue the Library has had. The titles should be written on the list in their shortest form, e. g. Macaulay's England. Against each title should be written (1) the date of the arrival of the package containing the particular book; then (2) the date when all the cards referring to that book were put into the drawers. This list should be written up so closely that the first date should be that of the day preceding the arrival of the list at the desk. Of course alphabetical order could not be kept. Then this list would complete the catalogue, do away with the present bulletins, and enable Mr. Winsor to put an end to all needless delay in cataloguing. Also, in the future, no book could be taken out before it had been properly catalogued.
2. Much time and labor are expended on the subject catalogue. What is the result? Except as regards those books easiest to find, it is a failure; and students or others must go without what they want, unless they apply to one of the two assistants who understand the subject catalogue. As an example: suppose one wished to find a translation of a French play, which appears in English under a new title and with the translator's name in place of the author's. The student does not know this new title or the name of the translator. It is almost certain that his search will be in vain. The subject catalogue should be scheduled minutely enough to enable common people to use it, or it should be abandoned. Why spend so much money to result in so great vexation of spirit?
3. The reference cards should all have the alcove and shelf marks of the books. It is a little hard to be referred to two or three different cards for the want of four or five figures in the margin of the first one.
4. Let authors' real names be found under their pseudonymes. Why force real names into the heads of students who are in a hurry for certain books? Mr. Winsor should remember that the elective system still reigns at Harvard.
5. Let the names of noble authors stand in the catalogue as on the title-pages of their books. If it is absolutely necessary for students to be acquainted with the titles of English or French nobility, why not put the author's family name at the bottom of the card, followed by a "vide Burke"?
6. Put all anonymous books under such titles in the alphabetical catalogue as will give some idea of their contents. If one wants a book on chess, he would hardly think of turning to the word "easy," yet there is the book, because the title runs: "An Easy Introduction," etc.
But enough; one might write a long magazine article on the eccentricities of the Library Catalogue.
To conclude, - the catalogue under the present system is very costly, very difficult to use, and always incomplete.