Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Have any scholars died from ladders at the Bodleian in 400 years?

Just wondering.

After 400 years, health and safety bans stepladders from historic Oxford library… but nobody can reach the books
Stepladders have been banned from part of Oxford University's historic Bodleian library - because of health and safety fears.

The ruling by officials means that students cannot use items on the higher shelves of the Duke Humfrey reading room.

However, the university is standing its ground and refusing to move the books from their 'original historic location' on the room's balcony.

As a result of the stalemate, students have to travel to libraries as far away as London to view other copies.

What's the main thing they teach you in library school? The point of a library is to provide access to information. What's the point of having pretty historical books without anyone being able to read them? Even a collector or book hoarder savours each book he or she owns and reads them on occasion. But in this case they have become mere decoration, no better than when shallow people buy old books they never read to make their house look more intellectual, which is a shame. Sure, the ladders aren't necessarily the best of solutions, but they've worked well for this long, haven't they?

Thanks to Steven of Library Stuff for this gem.

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