Good news and bad news at Oxford’s legendary Bodleian Library. The good news (especially if you’re Nicholson Baker or share his devotion to saving old books and magazines and newspapers) is that millions of books that there’s no room for in Oxford will be finding a new home in Swindon.
The bad news is that many of the books that are actually in the Bodleian — specifically, in the oldest part of the library, called Duke Humfrey’s Library — can no longer be accessed by patrons or staff because the university’s Health and Safety Officer has taken away all the stepladders. “Laurence Benson, the library's director of administration and finance, said: ‘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.’” Right. So they are kept in the location where they have been safely cosulted for 400 years but no one will ever again be able to consult them. Safely or otherwise.