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Friday, 7 September 2007

Should public libraries only stock books written in English?

With news from the Centre for Social Cohesion that eight public libraries in Tower Hamlets (this is the borough where just over a quarter of pupils get 5 good GCSEs compared to around 99% in our public schools) are stocking radical Islamist books encouraging readers to saw-off the heads of infidels with bread knives, the papers have a possible explanation. "It may be that the borough's librarians cannot read Urdu or Arabic and are unaware of the content".

Now, I'm not advocating censorship. For one thing, in the internet age, print censorship is pretty pointless. And although I wouldn't expect to see Mein Kampf on the shelves of my local library alongside the latest Wilbur Smith, I see nothing wrong with it being available in private circulating libraries or collections maintained for academic research. But what sort of excuse would it be if the council said "It may be that the borough's librarians cannot read German and are unaware of the content"?

With the piss-poor educational standards in Tower Hamlets, I'd suggest they'd be better off sticking to stocking books written in English, which perhaps even the librarians of that borough could read (with or without lip-moving and finger).

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