Cyberspace centre ousts Bard

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 January, 1997, 12:00am

Literature lovers claim Shakespeare will be turning in his grave over a British Council decision to jettison a library of pre-1900 books to make space for Internet terminals.

As well as the Bard, officials decided Chaucer, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen had no place on the shelves of the institute's new $300 million building in Supreme Court Road, Admiralty.

But City University English lecturer Dr Vicki Ooi Cheng-har said the decision to donate the 20,000 books to Hanoi Public Library showed a lack of vision.

'These books are universal and lasting works of literature. By removing them, you diminish the chance of people in Hong Kong discovering the joy they can bring,' she said.

Lecturer Christopher Hutton, from the same university, said: 'It is a shame these books will no longer be there for people to find.' But the council's head of communications, Renee Fok Yue-yun, said space was needed for a 'cyberspace centre' which would allow visitors access to all parts of British life and history on the World Wide Web.

Four computers are in place and six more are expected in the next couple of weeks.

Ms Fok said contact with the classics had not been cut. Video versions of Mel Gibson in Hamlet and Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing were still in stock.

'We have to keep up-to-date. This is what people want in today's world, the original books are no longer popular.' Modern authors such as Martin Amis, Julian Barnes and Irvine Welsh, the Scottish author best known for his stories of drug addicts and street life, now fill the remaining shelves.

Council education director Neil Maynard said: 'Older works can be found in bookshops across Hong Kong, so there was no point allowing them to take up much-needed space.'



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