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THE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Washington, D. C., December 5, 1910 Sir: I have the honor to submit herewith my report as Librarian of Congress for the year ending June 30, 1910. The report of the Superintendent of the Library Building and Grounds (and Disbursing Officer) follows, beginning at
Within the fiscal year treated by this report the only change that has occurred in a position of importance was the assignment of Mr. Charles Martel to the supervision of the Periodical Room, in place of Mr. C. B. Guittard, resigned (May 1, 1910), and the advance of Mr. Clarence W. Perley to the title of Chief Classifier. The duties of the Periodical Division will not, however, prevent Mr. Martel from continuing the general supervision of the classification.
Since the close of the fiscal year, however, a change has occurred of very great moment, in the resignation from our service of Mr. J. C. M. Hanson, who leaves us to become Associate Director of the Library of the University of Chicago. Mr. Hanson was placed in charge of our Catalogue Division when the collections were moved from the Capitol. They then comprised over 800,000 volumes of printed matter, as well as the manuscripts, maps, music, and prints, the care of which fell upon other divisions. Of the printed
books there was not merely no catalogue by subject, but none by author that could be made fully available to the public or continued in its existing form, since the one that existed was in script, on cards varying from the present standard size. There was no shelf list; and the only classification of the books upon the shelves was the “Baconian,” adopted early in the nineteenth century, which provided for but 44 main groups (chapters).
It was the task of Mr. Hanson's Division to determine the principle, method, and form of a new comprehensive catalogue, author and subject, to construct this, and apply it to the existing collection and incoming accessions; to determine, construct, and similarly apply a new, elastic, modern system of classification with all the records incidental thereto; and, at the outset, to handle in addition all the business of ordering, receiving, and accessioning the incoming material. For this he had a force of but a dozen persons. Later the order work was set apart and the classification consigned to the charge of a special group under a “chief classifier." The general administrative responsibility for this as for the catalogue remained, however, still with Mr. Hanson, and it was upon him that fell the duty not merely of determining and directing the work, but of developing and organizing the staff to handle it, from a Division of a dozen persons to one of over ninety.
The history of this undertaking has been recorded in our annual reports since 1899. Its significance can be realized only by those who understand what an exact, full, and scientific catalogue—an author and subject catalogue—means for a collection of books already the third largest in the world. Add to this what it means in the printed cardsproducts of the work—which have become available to hundreds of other libraries, even the most scholarly-so as to constitute the Library of Congress the nearest approach yet made to a central bureau of cataloguing for the entire country; add finally to this the initial responsibility, though