The elder Garnett, a Yorkshire clergyman, achieved philological standing sufficient to succeed H. F. Cary as assistant keeper of printed books at the British Museum (seebritish library) in 1838. His reputation, especially in Celtic, was high, but he died in office, after which his son joined the staff in 1851. Under Panizzi’s patronage he worked up from a catalogue clerkship to employment in the round Reading Room, where he had a placer's invaluable knowledge of the bookstack, succeeding George Bullen as superintendent in 1875. Garnett, a leading figure in the production of the general catalogue from 1881, became keeper of printed books in 1890. Important acquisitions were made despite government cutbacks, and in 1887 he introduced sliding book presses. Garnett resigned in 1899, continuing a literary career notable for publications on Shelley.
From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.