If You Want A London Library Card, Be Prepared To Answer Some Very Personal Questions


A library in Islington, north London is asking would-be patrons a series of totally normal questions that every library asks when you go to apply for a card.

You know, like your name, your address, whether or not you have a “hidden impairment, such as cancer, HIV, or diabetes.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

They are also asked, “do you consider yourself to be a Gypsy or Traveller”, whether they are transgender, and: “how would you describe your sexual orientation”.
The library membership form contains a section on “equalities monitoring” which asks prospective members to supply their religion, whether they are blind or deaf, or of Chinese or Vietnamese origin.

So why would the library need to know your sexual orientation or whether or not you could be classified as a Gypsy Traveler? Why, so they can tailor their services to meet your hyper-specific needs, of course!

The document explains: “Islington Council is committed to providing people with equal opportunities.
“We want to collect information about people so that we can tailor our services to meet their needs and also make sure that we are not doing anything that stops some people who fit into certain groups from having access to services, jobs or opportunities.”

Other similar questions being asked by multiple councils in north London include

-“Does your gender differ from your birth sex?”

-Do you have “a health condition, such as cancer, HIV or MS?”

-Do you have a mental health condition “such as depression or schizophrenia” or a “long-standing illness such as cancer or HIV?”

Anastasia de Waal, head of education policy at think tank Civitas, says these questions might —might!— put off potential readers who just wanted to check out a copy of Anna Karenina and be on their way:

“The point of a library is that it is open to everybody and that you go there to read and to get lost in a world of books and forget everything else,” she said. “If you are being asked what your status is, that is almost the reverse.
“If there is a reason for asking these questions, it does not seem to be at all clear.”

Want to join a library? Have you had a sex change? [Telegraph UK]

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