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calendar   Friday - May 08, 2009

After 400 years, health and safety bans stepladders from historic Oxford library…

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After 400 years, health and safety bans stepladders from historic Oxford library… but nobody can reach the books

By Lizzie Smith
Last updated at 7:00 PM on 08th May 2009

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.

Art History student Kelsey Williams, 21, had to travel 80 miles to London to view a copy of Arthur Johnston’s 1637 work Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum after librarians refused to get it down for her. She said: ‘Access to these books is necessary for my research and I wasted a day travelling to London and looking at the one in the British Library.

‘It’s madness because I can practically see the Bodleian’s copy every time I walk into Duke Humfrey’s.’

Stepladders have been used by scholars to reach books since the library was built more than 400 years ago.

But the University’s Health and Safety officer put his foot down last year and they were removed two weeks ago.

A notice given to students requesting the books reads: ‘Unable to fetch, book kept on top shelf in gallery. Due to new health and safety measures, stepladders can no longer be used.’

Laurence Benson, the library’s director of administration and finance, said: ‘The balcony has a low rail and we have been instructed by the health and safety office that this increases the risk.

‘As part of the process the restriction on the use of ladders on the balcony have been introduced.

‘The library would prefer to keep the books in their original historic location - where they have been safely consulted for 400 years prior to the instructions from the Health and Safety office.’

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 05/08/2009 at 06:22 PM   
Filed Under: • Health and SafetyStoopid-PeopleUK •  
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