Public libraries: the final cut?

Camden Council have apologised to a self-employed dress-maker for not lending her a pair of scissors:

Lorna Watts, 26, a self-employed dressmaker, was turned down at Holborn Library in central London.

She said: “It’s ridiculous – public libraries are supposed to be supportive of small businesses.”

A spokeswoman for Camden Council, which runs the library, has apologised and said it would investigate the incident.

Ms Watts, from Islington, north London, said: “I asked why I couldn’t borrow a pair of scissors and she said, ‘they are sharp, you might stab me’.

“I then asked to borrow a guillotine to cut up my leaflets but she refused again – because she said I could hit her over the head with it!”

She added: “It’s absurd – there are plenty of heavy books I could have hit her with if I wanted to.

Am I the only one who thinks that not only was Camden right not to lend Ms Watts but that she should indeed be kept away from sharp implements in future? What is a self-employed dress-maker doing not owning any scissors? I’m not an expert in dress-making but don’t scissors play a fairly central role? Is that not why she can buy a pair of scissors and, being self-employed, not pay any tax on them?

I’m curious about how far this policy of libraries having to support small businesses is going to go. Perhaps small businesses should be allowed to take up a corner of the library to sell their wares? Maybe they should start buying cars, on the off chance that a small businessman might need to borrow one? I look forward to seeing Camden’s new policy with great interest.

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