Thursday, February 19, 2009

Religious Literature In Public Libraries

I laughed a bit when I read this this Daily Mail article twisting a simple story about a Muslim society in the UK requesting that the Koran be placed on a higher shelf. Apparently Muslim scholars believe the Koran should always be on the higher shelf to show respect.

The Library responded by putting all religious texts on the uppers shelves. This caused a predictable counter-reaction from some Christian groups who now claim to be persecuted victims. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

I think the Library made an acceptable compromise, although it wouldn't bother me either if the Library just ignored the request. The Dewey decimal system works fine and there is a strong argument to be made for pragmatism.

If you made me the Librarian I just might slap warning labels on those books that they are not suitable for children. Some of the stories in ancient religious literature are violent and sexist. And its fairly obvious that religious texts nurture severe bigotry in some people

The story does show how a simple request from one group gets turned into a whole Christian vs Muslim war of Civilizations controversy. Mark Steyn would be proud. The rest of us find it tiresome.

I'm in favor of Libraries stocking primary religious texts and I'm in favor of people reading the Bible and the Koran at least once to complete their general education. My own Library has a fairly diverse collection of primary religious texts. I also know there is a subtle pressure to stock some fairly ugly religious literature.

I wouldn't want to be a librarian these days having to use public money to purchase materials, and probably getting angry letters and phone calls from unbalanced people who aren't seeing their kind of books. Or mad because they see something they don't like. Please recommend this post

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