National Geographic : 1950 May
National uieograplic Photographer I. Anthony Stewart China's Monumental Encyclopedia, Printed in 1728, Comes in 5,040 Volumes China presented this 1898 reproduction to the United States as a thank-you for remission of the Boxer indemnity. Huge as it seems, the set is not the largest Chinese encyclopedia. That honor belongs to the 11,095 volumes which 2,000 Chinese scholars compiled by hand in 1403-08. Some 370 volumes survive; the Library keeps 41. Chinese used movable type centuries ahead of Europeans (page 681). single year the contents of 37 miles of shelves, or 12,324 sections, are moved or rearranged. The problem of controlling the vast mass of material in the Library, so that it shall be available to readers, is at once complex, tre mendous, and endless. It is a question whether the complete cata loguing of all this material, including manu scripts, maps, and pictures, is anything more than a dim and perhaps an unwise ideal. Many special catalogues of the many spe cial divisions do not lend themselves to con solidation into the general catalogues. For example, how are nonalphabetic, ideographic Chinese and Japanese books to be combined into a catalogue that English-speaking peoples can understand? Of the four great general catalogues in the Library, one is for staff use and another is the National Union Catalog. This locates books in 700 other American and Canadian libraries, for there are several million books which the Library of Congress does not have. It also includes many titles in the Library's own collection which are not to be found in the other general catalogues, huge as they are. The National Union is an author catalogue. If subjects were listed, there would be 40,000, 000 to 50,000,000 instead of the present 15, 000,000 entries. Every week the Library sends out a list of from 30 to 100 titles of books which it cannot locate even in the Union Catalog; most of the requests to find them come from univer sities. The list is sent to some 60 selected re search libraries.