Availability and organisation of creationist literature in UK public libraries

MacDonald, Archie and McMenemy, David (2012) Availability and organisation of creationist literature in UK public libraries. New Library World, 113 (3/4). pp. 107-117. ISSN 0307-4803 (https://doi.org/10.1108/03074801211218426)

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Purpose – This study seeks to investigate the availability of creationist and intelligent design (ID) books in UK public libraries, whether any materials held are obtained as a result of donation or purchase, and whether such materials, if available, are classified as religion or science. Design/methodology/approach – A Freedom of Information Request (FOI) was sent to a subset of all the public library authorities in the UK. The FOI requests took the form of three queries/questions asked of the library service of each local authority. From a list of 218 library authorities, 68 were contacted either by email or by online contact form. Findings – There was a relatively low level of reported donations of creationist and ID materials in UK public libraries. However, a high number of library authorities did have creationist and intelligent design materials on their catalogues via their own procurement mechanisms. There was no consistent nationwide pattern with regards to how these materials were classified and there was a wide geographic variation reported, with difficulties evidenced in whether to present creationist and intelligent design texts to the public as religious texts or science texts. Research limitations/implications – The paper presents results from a subset of local authorities in the UK, thus cannot claim to be anything more than indicative of the sample. Practical implications – The paper suggests that library authorities may need to be more consistent in how they present controversial materials to users. Originality/value – The paper is the first to examine the issue of creationist materials in UK public libraries and how they are processed.