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ever, attend, yet no inconvenience has been alleged to have arisen from the number; and the committee are aware that there may be some advantage in retaining in the hands of the government a certain influence over the affairs of the Museum, which may be exercised on special occasions; yet, if any, act of the legislature should ultimately be found necessary, a reduction in the number of this class of trustees might not be unadvisable. “4. That, with regard to the existing elected trustees, the com- Elected
trustees. mittee think it very desirable that the trustees should take steps to ascertain whether some of those whose attendance has been the most unfrequent, might not be willing to resign their trusteeships. That, in future, it be understood that any trustee hereafter to be elected, not giving personal attendance at the Museum for a period to be fixed, is expected to resign his trusteeship, being, however, reeligible upon any future vacancy.
“5. That, in filling up vacancies, it would be desirable that the As to fillelecting trustees should not, in future, lose sight of the fact, that ing up
vacancies. an opportunity is thus afforded them of occasionally conferring a mark of distinction upon men of eminence in literature, science, and art."
A subcommittee* of the trustees having been ap- Proceed. pointed to consider the various recommendations of the ings of the select committee of the Commons, the trustees report thereon. by their subsequent minutest that Lord St. Helens had resigned his office of elected trustee, and that Mr. Hallam had been elected in his room, and that they had “resolved that in future it be understood that any trustee hereafter to be elected, not giving personal attendance at any of the meetings of the trustees, for a period exceeding twelve months, is expected to resign his trusteeship, or to assign such reasons for his absence as may be satisfactory to a general meeting of the trustees.”
• Consisting of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and of the Bishop of London, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lords Stanley, Aberdeen, Cawdor, Farnborough, and Ashburton, and Sir R. H. Inglis.
† Laid before parliament, June 19, 1837, and printed in Sessional paper, No. 409.
Other vacancies, which have since occurred, have been filled up by the election of Lord Carlisle and Mr. W. R. Hamilton.
“6. That the extension of the collections which has taken place ments. and the still greater extension which may be looked for, render a
further division of departments necessary; and that at the head of each department there be placed a keeper, who shall be responsible for the arrangement, proper condition, and safe custody of the collection committed to his care."
The department of natural history has been accordingly divided into three--mineralogical, zoological, and botanical. And the print-room has been made inde
pendent of the department of antiquities. Board of “7. That it is desirable that the heads of departments shall meet officers.
once in every three months, for the purpose of consulting with reference to any matters of detail relating to the internal arrangements of the Museum, which they may desire jointly to submit io the trustees in writing."
This seventh resolution (the most important of all, save that calling for increased parliamentary grants,) has not yet been carried into effect, but the trustees have stated that it will be taken into consideration “when the new arrangements are more completely in operation.”
Such a board might do much to promote, as well the exertions of the officers in their respective departments, as that proper and systematic intercourse between trustees and officers, which is so eminently
desirable for the public interest. Officers,
“8. That whenever there may be a vacancy in the office of prin. their duties cipal librarian, or in that of secretary, it is desirable that the duties and sala
now discharged by those officers respectively, including the expenditorship, be reconsidered, and that the office of secretary be not combined with the keepership of any department."
“11. That it expedient that the trustees should revise the salaries of the establishment, with the view of ascertaining what
required for the purpose of carrying into effect the foregoing resolutions, as well as of obtaining the whole time and services of the ablest men, independently of any remuneratio from other sources; and that when such scale of salary shall have been fixed, it shall not be competent to any officer of the Museum paid thereunder to hold any other situation, conferring emoluments or entailing duties.”
“14. That it be recommended to the trustees that every new accession to the Museum be forthwith registered in detail by the officer at the head of the department, in a book to be kept for that purpose; and that each head of a department do make an annual report to the trustees of the accessions within the year, vouched by the signature of the principal librarian; of desiderata; and of the state and condition of his own department."
Upon these, the trustees have resolved :
That “it is desirable to separate the management of Plurality of the pecuniary concerns of the Museum from those which offices. are purely literary and scientific, and to confine the attention of the ordinary officers of the Museum to their literary and scientific duties."
“ That no officer or other person employed in the Museum, in future, hold any other office or employment without the permission of the trustees first obtained in writing. And that the following offices and employments be declared incompatible with any situation in the Museum: the place of librarian to any corporate body, or to any society or individual; any living, curacy, or assistant-curacy; any place in or under any commission, royal or parliamentary, where any salary or emoluments are attached to the duties performed; the office of director, treasurer, secretary, or any other place in any banking, insurance, dock, or any other trading company or association; any situation under her majesty, or in any public office, where the emoluments shall exceed £50 per
annum.” "That the office of secretary be no longer held with
Principal librarian and secretary.
Confused responsibi. lity as to MSS. and books taken to readingrooms.
that of keeper of the MSS. and that it be declared incompatible with any other situation in the Museum."
The duties of principal librarian and of secretary have been also rearranged, and the salary of the former fixed at £800, of the latter at £700 a year.
In this arrangement of duties, there are two points which appear of very questionable propriety, as tending inevitably to a confusion of responsibility.
The one is, that the superintendence of the readingrooms is in the hands of the principal librarian, with a charge as to “ the security and preservation of the collections” (that is, of MSS. and printed books) while the nominal responsibility for all the MSS. and all the printed books is in the chief keepers of those departments respectively.
As it has not been shown that separate reading rooms for MSS. and printed books would lead to any serious inconvenience, I would venture to suggest, that to make such a division, and give the chief superintendence of each to the head of the department with which it is connected, would be a far preferable course. For to make a large number of books and MSS. change their responsible guardian in the course of each day is virtually to deprive them of any; and such it is found to be in practice. The serious losses to which the Museum has been, and continues to be exposed, render this a point of great importance.* And the necessarily intimate connexion between the arrangements of the libraries and those of the reading-rooms, appears to afford further evidence in favour of the suggestion I have submitted.
The other point relates to the collection of books claimed under the Copyright Act, the superintendence of which is entrusted to the secretary, by the 13th section of the new regulation of his duties. As reference is al
Collection of books claimed under Copyright Act.
It must, however, be admitted that, under the vigilance of the present principal librarian, these losses are much less than might be expected.
ways made from the reading-room to the keeper of printed books, respecting books enquired for, but not found in the catalogues, and as the task of actually obtaining the copyright books must occupy a large portion of the time of one person, specially entrusted with it; it would seem preferable to make that person responsible to the head of the department which is exclusively concerned. But I submit this suggestion with great deference; well aware that the collection of these books is at present a matter of difficulty owing to the imperfect provisions of the act.
The “ Library-tax," as it was justly termed, is still a Defect of grievance, although reduced from eleven copies to five.
specting But the copies to the four Universities, not that to the this claim. British Museum, are the ground of complaint. And, in any case, so long as the claim continue legal, there should be sufficient powers to make it effectual.*
With reference to the annual reports of accessions, desiderata, and state of collections, &c., directed to be made by each head of department, I would beg strongly to recommend that a general report, founded upon these, be laid before parliament, and by that means furnished to the public, which could scarcely fail to do good in many ways. The brief notes now appended to the annual estimate are far too meagre to be of any value out of parliament.
The trustees have also resolved to “institute a general Inventoand uniform method of registering, numbering, and marking the several objects belonging to the trust as soon as they are received into the Museum, and to direct a periodical verification of the inventories, under the superintendence of the principal officers.”
• It may be mentioned that no such powers are provided for by Mr. Serjeant Talfourd's proposed bill, which however reenacts the delivery of the five copies.