University to Review Library’s Cabinet Collection

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Source: Times of Malta

“It is the books that are being protected from the users rather than the users protected from the books” – library committee

The University of Malta’s Senate Library Committee said today that it was setting up a sub-committee to review criteria for allocating books to its Cabinet Collection and would invite academic body signatories of the Front Against Censorship’s petition to sit on the committee and contribute to the discussion.

The Library committee was reacting to media comments made by the Front Against Censorship regarding the Library’s Cabinet Collection.

It explained that this collection was not intended as censorship; nor did it function as such since any member of the academic body or any other member of the Library who so requested could borrow these books. No such request had ever been refused.

“This method of access protected these books from the spoliation which unfortunately happens to other books when they are on the open shelves and can be damaged even before they are borrowed. The books within the Cabinet Collection contain a number of different categories of volumes. These include rare books such as first editions and imprints,” the committee said.

It added that there was also a miscellaneous group to which many of the books referred to by the Front belonged.

“This is clearly the time to review criteria for such categorisation of the miscellaneous group, even to discuss whether such criteria should be applied at all,” the Committee said.

“For this purpose the Senate Library Committee has set up a small sub-committee to review criteria for allocating books to the Cabinet Collection. It will invite academic body signatories of the Front Against Censorship’s petition to sit on this Committee and contribute to the discussion, which it is hoped will be as open and transparent as possible. It will also work on the immediate release of those volumes that members of the academic body feel do not require special protection.”

The Committee said it would like to reiterate Mr Ellul’s appeal for the retention of some form of protection for those volumes that history has shown to be more vulnerable to spoliation.

“This is to guarantee that they remain available to all Library members, rather than being lost. It is hoped that the Front and its supporters will accept that it is legitimate to protect books from some types of users, and that this does not constitute an act of censorship. In the case of the Cabinet Collection, it is the books that are being protected from the users rather than the users protected from the books.”

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