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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Top booking

Just when you think you’ve seen all the appeasement to religion that you can stomach, we now learn that British libraries are having to put “holy” books on the top shelves, because to have them lower would be to demean them.

Pardon me while I puke.

So our libraries are now becoming places of worship, not learning, since it seems that the books are there to be venerated, not studied.

In one sense, I’m all for putting these old scriptures where people are less likely to see them, but, really, it’s not a good idea, since they’re there for reference and, if I wanted to check something for an article in, say, St John’s Gospel, or to look up a sura in the Koran, I’d be peeved that I always had to stretch or ask for the stepladder.

But it’s to appease the religious, you see, especially – yes, you guessed – Muslims.

According to the Daily Telegraph, “Muslims have complained that the Koran is often displayed on the lower shelves, which is deemed offensive as many believe the holy book should be placed above ‘commonplace things’.”

Oh, “commonplace things” such as Shakespeare, great classical and modern literature, science, poetry, music and stuff? Those commonplace things?

This idiotic move has come in bureaucratic guidelines, the paper tells us, “despite concern from Christian charities that this will put the Bible out of the reach and sight of many people”. These guidelines have come from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. The Telegraph adds:

It said Muslims in Leicester had moved copies of the Koran to the top shelves of libraries, because they believe it is an insult to display it in a low position.

A report into the issue said the city’s librarians consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations and were advised that all religious texts should be kept on the top shelf.

The guidance states: “This meant that no offence is caused, as the scriptures of all the major faiths are given respect in this way, but none is higher than any other.”

Let’s just get this offence thing out of the way before we move on: offence would be taken, not caused.

Anyway, thanks to the bumbling bureaucrats who are pandering to the pathetic whinings of wacky religionists, it’s religious sensitivities that once again get the long straw (in that religion is being put above everything else, both literally and figuratively), while said bureaucrats’ real remit – books, culture, learning – gets the short one, in that those books are harder to get at for someone who wants to refer to or study them, not pray to them.

But there’s an irony here: fewer casual browsers are likely to stumble across a bible or copy of the Koran and – well, browse it. Is that what the religious nutcases really want?

As I say, that’s fine by me to an extent – but why should the serious student be made to stretch, just because Muslims have chosen to? After all, the book belongs to the library and through that to your ordinary Joe and Jane Bloggs. It’s paper and ink, dammit!

The only reverence one should pay to it is the reverence one should pay to all books (especially those that are to be used by others): that’s keep them clean, free of dog ears and bits of your lunch, and leave them how you would wish to find them.

(Off topic here, but I do hate people who fold down corners of library books to keep their places. I come across it all the time. Use a bookmark, for goodness’ sake! It need only be a piece of scrap paper.)


Baal's Bum said...

Keep it in the toilet in case you fun out of loo roll.

Buffy said...

Oh FFS. The libraries should tell Muslims (as with anybody) that books are categorized according to a system and that's the way they'll stay. Otherwise every loony who wants to demand certain books be put elsewhere will be in there doing so. Now the RRRW nutters will be able to rightfully go in and scream for the GLBT and other such books to be shoved into dark corners of the libraries lest they be "offended".

The libraries are setting a dangerous precedent with this nonsense.