In The News: Bookseller Burns Books; Librarian's Sentence Reduced; Stolen Book Found
In other news, a New Zealand librarian, sentenced to 11 months in jail in April for stealing books (see last month's AE Monthly) had her sentence reduced to four months. She will probably be able to obtain her release in a few weeks. Karen Churton was sentenced for stealing over $23,000 worth of books from the Massey University Library where she worked. When confronted with the evidence, she confessed, although some raised questions as to whether there might have been more thefts than she confessed to. In reducing the sentence, the appellate judge stated the original sentence was based too greatly on those applied to members of a professional book theft ring. He also stated that the original sentence did not give sufficient credit to the fact that she was a first-time offender.
Ms. Churton, like many other “first-time” offenders, benefited from it taking authorities quite awhile to catch her. She actually confessed to stealing six books. If she had been caught after stealing her first book, book number two would have made her a repeat offender. Since she was not, even book number six constituted a “first-time” offense. However, while reducing her prison time, the judge did not suggest she be given back her old librarian's job.
In a related story, a copy of the 1823 A New American Atlas, published by Henry Tanner, stolen from the Historical Society of Rockland County (New York), was recovered in Philadelphia. A copy of this book sold for $48,875 at a PBA auction in 2003. It could well be worth considerably more today. The person attempting to sell the book in Philadelphia was a former employee of the Rockland Historical Society. No charges had been filed as of this writing, but the former employee is, naturally, a suspect. As with the Massey case, this one has the doubly troubling aspect of apparently being an inside job. Surveillance cameras and the like, now becoming common in use, are less likely to be helpful in thwarting inside jobs.