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TO THE

A S T O R L I B R A R Y

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NEW YORK:
PRINTED BY R. CRAIG HEAD,

Caxton Building,
81, 83, AND 85 CENTRE STREET.

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PREFATORY NOTICE.

The additions to the Astor Library, since the publication of the four volumes of its first Catalogue, containing the Alphabetical Index of Authors, have been so considerable as to require a supplementary volume. The supplement is now laid before the public, and in conjunction with it an Alphabetical Index of Subjects. On referring to the Preface of Part I. of the printed Catalogue it will be seen that Part II., as there announced, would consist of an Alphabetical Index or Dictionary of Subjects, that would probably fill as many volumes as the Alphabetical Catalogue of Authors. This calculation would have proved correct had the original idea been carried out. It contemplated a thorough dissection of the library, and would have embodied references under their appropriate heads to the separate treatises of every miscellaneous work; of every polygraphic writer; of every scientific, historical, and literary collection; of all the Transactions of learned societies, and of the public documents and state papers, as well as to whole volumes. The greatly increased cost of printing and paper has rendered it inexpedient to carry out this purpose to its full extent; it would have required a larger portion of the annual income of the library than could rightly be diverted from the purchase of books. Hence it became necessary to adopt a less extended and less costly system. That which has been adopted is substantially an abridgment of the one first proposed. It limits the references for the most part to the general subjects set forth in the titles of works, and instead of repeating titles in full it refers to the name or word under which the full description will be found in Part I. of the Catalogue. Its alphabetical order is its greatest merit, for it is that which makes it equally serviceable to the common reader and the scholar, and entirely does away with the necessity of the previous question to be asked as to all Catalogues raisonnés, "what is the system upon which the classification is made ?” is it Brunet's, or the abstruse one of Mr. Jefferson, or the absolutely incomprehensible one of Dr. A. A. E. Schleiermacher, the last of which transcends transcendentalism. A well arranged, classified Catalogue is certainly a desideratum for a large public library; but in respect to Catalogues it is not the first desideratum, nor is it very important that it should be printed. The Catalogues most needed are those which answer most readily the two questions : Has the library a certain book ? and what has it on a certain subject? The Astor Library has had these special objects in view in the compilation of its first Catalogue, and of the alphabetical index of subjects which is now provided for its readers, without attempting to give a scientific classification of

human knowledge.

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