SENIOR Scottish writers have criticised a decision by the world's biggest library to reclassify their work as a subsection of English literature.
The US Library of Congress has announced that the past 700 years of Scottish literature will no longer have its own section. The National Library of Scotland has urged it to reconsider the decision and the culture minister has vowed to raise the matter with the US Congress.
Under the new rules, the heading Scottish Literature and more than 40 Scottish subjects are to be grouped under three headings.
They include 'English Literature – Scottish Authors', 'Dialect Literature – Scottish', and 'Scotland – Literatures'.
An example is the classic novel The Thirty Nine Steps by Scottish author John Buchan which will now be listed under 'Adventure Stories – English'.
Scottish science fiction will become 'Science Fiction – English', and the different Scottish poetry genres will disappear.
It is feared the influence of the Washington-based library will see other libraries around the globe follow suit.
Poet Liz Lochhead said any Scottish writer would be "appalled" by the move which goes "absolutely against political and cultural movements in Scotland".
She said: "I can't imagine how this can happen without anyone being consulted. There must be a very strong protest. The British Isles is not England alone."
Multi-million-selling crime writer Ian Rankin said: "There are specific cultural differences between the countries of the United Kingdom but this smoothes them all out. If I was Irish, I would think it very odd to find Irish poetry lumped in with English poetry. And it is very odd to find Hugh MacDiarmid listed as if he was Shakespeare."
The culture minister, Linda Fabiani, said: "This change has been vigorously resisted by the National Library of Scotland and they have been in touch with the Library of Congress to request reconsideration.
"While this is ultimately a decision for authorities in the USA, this government believes that Scottish Literature is quite distinctive from English Literature and should be recognised as such.
"I shall also be raising this issue directly with Congress early in the New Year."
A spokesman for the National Library of Scotland said they had "obvious objections on the grounds of national identity".
A spokesman for the Library of Congress said it would be considering the issue again in the New Year.