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Oxford’s books are high up

The historic Bodleian Library bars access to volumes kept in top racks.

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Oxford’s books are high up
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Britain, to make up for the monstrosities it perpetrated on its colonies during its empire days, has since the culmination of the Second World War been celeritously progressing on a path of political correctness — to the extent of first starting to call a spade a wilting water lily and then beginning to nurse a whimpering nanny state.

Now, an old stanchion of olde Blighty has caught the contagion. The Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, where many a ruminative afternoon was spent by the likes of Gladstone and Attlee, Wilde and Shelly, and Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee, has made the books in its uppermost shelves out of bounds for students — or anyone else for that matter.

The reason: three-year-old British health and safety regulations that the library’s authorities happened to trip upon recently. Better late than never, the library has deemed the use of stepladders to be too risky for a scholar’s life and limb. The momentous decision has been arrived at irrespective of the fact that in the centuries of its existence, no untoward incident is on record to have occurred in the Bodleian owing to the use of ladders for reaching books in the higher rows.

So is there a way to access the books? In one word, no. The authorities say, respecting the national love of tradition, the books stay where they are: in their “historic” locations. If one wants access to a particular volume, one can always try at the British Library in London. And yes, there are also the digital versions.

But Oxford’s students are not humoured. London is not close, and digital versions are... well... digital. As one (presumably) commented on the website of The Oxford Times, “For years people have climbed ladders with very few accidents... IMHO (in my humble opinion) some people use health and safety as a reason to avoid doing something.”
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