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The Cumulative Book Index



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The Cumulative Book Index completes with this number the tenth year of its publication. Ten years ago the publisher of the Index was spending his evenings with pencil and paper trying to reduce certain figures to a sum which would make possible a new undertaking that he, as a bookseller, needed in his own business and one which he believed other booksellers would demand soon. He and his wife, working at home evenings, prepared in February, 1898, an eight and a half page index of the books published the preceding month. These eight and a half pages of minion type, generously leaded, would amount to five or six pages set in our present style. It now takes fifty or sixty pages to catalog the books of a single month. The first number was an author and title index in one alphabet, with a supplementary subject index, in which the titles were grouped under such general headings as "Natural sciences," "Economics and politics." The author entries only contained price and publisher so that the name "Index" was not then inadequate as it is now. The first edition was carried to the post-office by the publisher himself. To post one of our large numbers now, the drayman has to make two or three trips. The first month increased the subscription list to twenty-seven. great prosperity required that the business should be moved to a corner of the publisher's bookstore in the basement of the "Old Main" building of the University of Minnesota. In August an editor was engaged and not long afterward an assistant, so that by the time the first annual number was in preparation we again needed new quarters and moved to a tiny office in the basement of the University Young Men's Christian Association building, where the editor and her assistant made copy, read proof, alphabeted the linotype lines, and glanced over the final proofs amid the dull


No. 12

adjoining printing shop and the impatient grumbles of a waiting printer. It was in this number that appeared the classic entry "Story of the heroes of the American revolution, each one sliding off and showing the next.' Where the second line came from and where the right line went to is one of the unsolved mysteries. It led, however, to a system of calling the roll of our lines each month. The first annual number consisted of 233 pages of minion type, amounting in our present style of type to about 180 pages, against the 760 of this volume. Each of the ten years new features have been added and more books cataloged, in face of the knowledge that the additional expense involved would not bring a corresponding increase of income.

The eastern publishers for the most part at first ignored us: some told us frankly that they did not care to have their books listed in the Index; a few sent us curt and very uncommunicative responses. Now we are frequently asked, "What shall we do in order to have our books listed in your publication?" At present the business department alone requires three times the force of workers which formed the Index staff during the first year of its publication. The staff moreover has grown in experience as well as in numbers, each member with one exception having had from five to eight years experience in her particular work. It is their intelligent and loyal coöperation with the editor which has made the growth and improvement of the Index possible. We acknowledge our indebtedness in particular to Miss Bertha Tannehill, Misses Agnes and Beatrice Woollett, Misses Emma and Louise Teich, and Miss Ellen Frost. We owe a great deal also to some of our first patrons whose faith in us in spite of our ludicrous and annoying mistakes, gave us the courage to persist in our undertaking.

The present annual is larger than any which has preceded it. More of the current books have been cataloged, particularly privately printed books, transactions of societies, and government publications, state and federal. The publications of the American Statistical association and the American Academy of arts and sciences have been included; the catalog of the Oxford University press and a number of smaller catalogs have been checked over and corrections made for prices; and papers and essays, found in various collections, have been cataloged,

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