A MAVERICK librarian has come under fire for including the Bible in a “wish list” of books people have chosen to burn.
Bodmin library manager Jesse Foot started his “book-burning promotion’’ by putting his own choices on the pile, and one of them is the Bible.
Users can choose books they think are rubbish, and also those with terrible covers or a book that made them depressed after reading it.
But Bodmin rector, the Rev Canon Graham Minors, has criticised Mr Foot’s choice of the Bible as “insensitive’’ to Christians.
Mr Foot says he included the book to draw attention to the need to keep libraries open.
Among the books customers chose this week were Dante’s Inferno, Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Noddy and Friends picture books.
Mr Foot said there is a serious point to his controversial promotion.
“The only thing worse than burning books is not reading them,’’ he said. “I want to get the message across that not using your library is as good as burning it down.’’
Mr Foot has courted controversy before. Two years ago he asked borrowers to select books they hated most, which brought the library national media attention and a mention in a Piers Morgan column as one of his books was on the most-hated list.
Others on the “burning’’ shelf were books on smoking, the international bestseller Holy Blood And Holy Grail, and two books by the American social commentator and film-maker, Michael Moore.
Mr Foot, who was brought up in the US, said Moore’s books fell into the category of “books that smell bad’’.
He added: “What I mean by that is that they have been lent to someone who is a heavy smoker, or whose pets stink, or maybe fry too many chips, and they have been returned smelling really bad. Plus Moore is very annoying too, the way he has manipulated the media.’’
It was Mr Foot who put the Bible on the book-burning pile. He said he did it to “catch the eye’’ of library users in the hope they would contribute their own selections.
“Books have often presented a challenge to people and some have responded in the past by burning them, including copies of the Bible,’’ he said.’’
“Books can be very emotive, they can also be very inspiring to people. But if people don’t bother to read them, you may as well burn them, and the best way to access books is to keep using libraries,’’ he said.
“I created this display to inflame a little public response. The power of books and the words within ignite passionate human responses.
“Book-burning may be controversial but it is a feeble attempt to contain that power.” Governments, religious institutions or individuals cannot contain the immense power held within great books. My desire is for people to read more, use their local libraries and use their minds.’’
But Mr Minors Bodmin priest the Rev Canon Graham Minors said Mr Foot had gone too far in including the Bible in his burning pile.
“I think he’s trying to be too clever. I can see what he is trying to do, but he is being very insensitive towards people who call themselves Christians – if it were the Koran he would be in real trouble.
“There are many poorly-written books I wouldn’t mind seeing burned, but in the case of the Bible, I think he’s gone too far down the road of self-publicity and should get a life.’’
This could be Mr Foot’s last promotion at the library. Cornwall Council is making his job redundant along with a number of other library manager posts in the county. He is due to leave the library service in December.