Tag: libraries

Arthur displays his library card.

A Librarian’s Guide to Fighting Discrimination

Earlier this year, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) published a digital resource for librarians as part of its push for freedom of expression (and book titles) in school libraries. The manual, an eight-page PDF file titled “Defend LGBTQ Stories,” outlines a number of difficult or delicate circumstances educators will encounter as their students develop literary tastes, and offers specific advice on how to be an ally and set an example of compassion for all students. The guide offers librarians simplified tools for de-stigmatizing LGBTQ themes, protesting banned books, staying up to date on school policy changes, communicating with the NCAC, and sharing their experiences on social media.

This fledgeling resource — a small, but mighty PDF — comes as part of a subset of the NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program called the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP). This grassroots-inspired program unites community members and national organizations to oppose the growing tangle of restrictions placed on library media in American schools. According to the NCAC’s website, the KRRP rallies “teachers, booksellers, librarians, local reporters and free speech advocates” to protect the reading rights of students.


These subsets of the NCAC, itself an entity composed of fifty nonprofit organizations, do not have the legal clout to directly influence policy change in the American education system. Instead, they rely on time-tested community advocacy to drum up significant local support to challenge cases on an individual basis, while making these methods accessible to the public. Since 2016, for example, the Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) has pushed bills which aim to restrict materials allowed in Florida classrooms based on their educational value. The NCAC offers a thorough breakdown of the proposed legislation, a timeline for its development, and a history of the FLCA’s past initiatives. This document, available on the NCAC’s website, is free to read and share, and gives activists the help they need to make sure kids can read whatever they please.

While the NCAC’s resource “Defend LGBTQ Stories” is in effect a glorified How-To guide for being a properly “woke” librarian in an American school, it is nonetheless a tremendously productive and helpful tool which, in the hands of community activists and national associations alike, has the potential to effect real change and inspire a future generation that embraces diversity.


Featured Image via Arthur

Budget Cuts

‘Book Poverty:’ The Epidemic of Closing Libraries

March 7, 2019 is World Book Day, and fewer children than ever are reading. Budget cuts and library closures are serious threats to childhood literacy—and marginalized communities have been impacted the most severely.


Cartoon depicts library budget cuts leading to closings

Image Via Cagle Cartoons


Libraries offer more than just books—if books are ever ‘just’ anything. Just a whole world small enough to fit into your backpack? Just a $2,000 plane ticket for the low low price of $0.00? Just a work of art as enduring as any hanging up in a museum (and one that you can take home without being arrested)? Libraries are a safe community space offering accessible resources, like adult education, language classes, and research databases. These programs are open to seniors, children, and disadvantaged members of the community—an opportunity that exists regardless of socioeconomic status when so few opportunities do. Will libraries in wealthier communities have more funding? Yes. But libraries remain an integral community feature.

Or, rather, they would if they were staying open.


Library Closed for Budget Cuts

Image Via Baristanet


In the U.K., the number of library book loans dropped from 255,128,957 in 2011 to 157,387,109 in 2018—a shocking 38% decrease that, unfortunately, isn’t as shocking as book-lovers might think. In the wake of 700 library closures since 2010, Library Campaign chair Laura Swaffield said there was only one surprise: “that the decline in book loans isn’t even larger.”

When the libraries go, so do the librarians: over 700 full-time library employees faced termination last year alone. While 3,000 volunteers have taken their places, this is a stopgap measure and not a solution. The problem is the drastic budget cuts, and—like so many other problems—money may be the only solution.

It’s either the solution, or it’s yet another problem. Given the £2 million proposed cuts for 2019, it looks like the latter. In the U.K., only 25% of eight to eighteen year olds read daily. If that statistic sounds dire, it gets even worse: that’s a full 20% drop from just four years earlier. As libraries lose money, children lose interest in reading—because some of them lose access to engaging, affordable books. This phenomenon, “book poverty,” describes the grim reality for disadvantaged young people: one in eight poor U.K. children doesn’t own a single book. Childhood literacy is widely known as “the single most important factor” in the success of a child’s education; yet when it comes time for budget cuts, it’s considered one of the least important criteria for funding.


Encyclopedic volumes on benefits of libraries, brochure of downsides

Image Via Cagle Cartoons


Featured Image Via K-12 Insight.

Brooklyn Public Library Recommends You Read These 12 Books During the Government Shutdown

Whether you agree with this government shutdown or not, you cannot deny that you need a reading list of books to ease the stress away. Here are 12 books that the Brooklyn Public Library recommended we read during this infamous shutdown with their Amazon synopsis included:


1. The National Parks: America’s Best Idea by Duncan Dayton


Image Via Amazon


America’s national parks spring from an idea as radical as the Declaration of Independence: that the nation’s most magnificent and sacred places should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. In this evocative and lavishly illustrated narrative, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan delve into the history of the park idea, from the first sighting by white men in 1851 of the valley that would become Yosemite and the creation of the world’s first national park at Yellowstone in 1872, through the most recent additions to a system that now encompasses nearly four hundred sites and 84 million acres.

The authors recount the adventures, mythmaking, and intense political battles behind the evolution of the park system, and the enduring ideals that fostered its growth. They capture the importance and splendors of the individual parks: from Haleakala in Hawaii to Acadia in Maine, from Denali in Alaska to the Everglades in Florida, from Glacier in Montana to Big Bend in Texas. And they introduce us to a diverse cast of compelling characters—both unsung heroes and famous figures such as John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ansel Adams—who have been transformed by these special places and committed themselves to saving them from destruction so that the rest of us could be transformed as well.

The National Parks is a glorious celebration of an essential expression of American democracy.


2. Before They’re Gone: A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks by Michael Lanza



Image Via Amazon


A longtime backpacker, climber, and skier, Michael Lanza knows our national parks like the back of his hand. As a father, he hopes to share these special places with his two young children. But he has seen firsthand the changes wrought by the warming climate and understands what lies ahead: Alaska’s tidewater glaciers are rapidly retreating, and the abundant sea life in their shadow departs with them. Encroaching tides threaten beloved wilderness coasts like Washington’s Olympic and Florida’s Everglades. Less snowfall and hotter summers will diminish Yosemite’s world-famous waterfalls. And it is predicted that Glacier National Park’s 7,000-year-old glaciers will be gone in a decade.

To Lanza, it feels like the house he grew up in is being looted. Painfully aware of the ecological—and spiritual—calamity that global warming will bring to our nation’s parks, Lanza sets out to show his children these wonders before they have changed forever.

He takes his nine-year-old son, Nate, and seven-year-old daughter, Alex, on an ambitious journey to see as many climate-threatened wild places as he can fit into a year: backpacking in the Grand Canyon, Glacier, the North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and along the wild Olympic coast; sea kayaking in Alaska’s Glacier Bay; hiking to Yosemite’s waterfalls; rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park; cross-country skiing in Yellowstone; and canoeing in the Everglades.

Through these poignant and humorous adventures, Lanza shares the beauty of each place and shows how his children connect with nature when given “unscripted” time. Ultimately, he writes, this is more their story than his, for whatever comes of our changing world, they are the ones who will live in it.


3. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair


Image Via Amazon


The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968). Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities. Many readers were most concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, based on an investigation he did for a socialist newspaper. The book depicts working class poverty, the lack of social supports, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and a hopelessness among many workers. These elements are contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. A review by the writer Jack London called it, “the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.” Sinclair was considered a muckraker, or journalist who exposed corruption in government and business. He first published the novel in serial form in 1905 in the Socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, between February 25, 1905, and November 4, 1905. In 1904, Sinclair had spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards for the newspaper. It was published as a book on February 26, 1906 by Doubleday and in a subscribers’ edition.



4. Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security by Edmund S. Hawley


Image Via Amazon


We’re all familiar with the TSA by now―from the daunting lines to the X-ray machines to the curious three ounce rule governing liquids. But many question whether this strange assortment of regulations, meant to protect the two million people a day travelling through US airports, actually works. In this riveting exposé, former TSA administrator Kip Hawley unveils the agency’s ongoing battle to outthink and outmaneuver terrorists, navigating bureaucratic limitations and public disdain to stay one step ahead of catastrophe. Citing foiled terrorist plots and near misses that have never been publicly revealed, Hawley suggests that the fundamental flaw in America’s approach to national security is the belief that we can plan for every contingency. Instead, he argues, we must learn to manage reasonable levels of risk so we can focus our near-term energy on stopping truly catastrophic events while, in the long-term, engaging passengers to support a less rigid and more sustainable security strategy. This is a fascinating glimpse inside one of the country’s most maligned agencies and the complex business of keeping Americans safe every day.



5. Accidental Heroes by Danielle Steel



Image Via Amazon


On a beautiful May morning at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, two planes have just departed for San Francisco—one a 757, another a smaller Airbus A321. At a security checkpoint, TSA agent Bernice Adams finds a postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge bearing an ambiguous—perhaps ominous—message. Her supervisor dismisses her concerns, but Bernice calls security and soon Ben Waterman arrives. A senior Homeland Security agent, still grappling with guilt after a disastrous operation in which hostages were killed, Ben too becomes suspicious. Who left the postcard behind, which flight is that person on, and what exactly does the message mean?

As Ben scans the passenger manifests, his focus turns to the A321, with Helen Smith as its senior pilot. Helen’s military service and her tenure with the airline have been exemplary. But her husband’s savage death in Iraq was more than anyone should bear, leaving her widowed with three children. A major film star is on board. So is an off-duty pilot who has just lost his forty-year career. So is a distraught father, traveling with the baby son he has abducted from his estranged wife. Sifting through data and relying on instinct, Ben becomes convinced that someone on Helen’s plane is planning something terrible. And he’s right. Passengers, crew, and experts on the ground become heroes out of necessity to try to avert tragedy at the eleventh hour.

In her stunning novel, Danielle Steel combines intense action with stories of emotionally rich, intertwined lives. As the jet bears down on its destination of San Francisco, strangers are united, desperate choices are made, and futures will be changed forever by a handful of accidental heroes.



6. Environmental Protection: What Everyone Needs to Know by Pamela Hill


Image Via Amazon


Although climate change and pollution make near-daily appearances in the news, humans have not always recognized that the environment needs to be protected. Only after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 did environmental protection became a political and social priority.

In Environmental Protection: What Everyone Needs to Know®, environmental lawyer Pamela Hill offers clear, engaging answers to some of the most pressing questions facing us today. She discusses the science behind current environmental issues, defining key terms such as ecosystems, pollutants, and endocrine disruptors. Hill explains why our environment needs protection, using examples from history and current events, from the Irish potato famine to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. She also assesses the effectiveness of landmark laws and treaties, including the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Kyoto Protocol.

To what extent is it acceptable to rank human interests over ecological interests? And is it fair to ask developing countries to reduce emissions, even though they bear little responsibility for our current environmental problems? Hill identifies the greatest environmental threats we are facing today and suggests what we need to do as citizens, businesspeople, and lawmakers to protect the environment for each other and for future generations.



7. Guaranteed to Fail: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Debacle of Mortgage Finance by Viral V. Acharya, Matthew Richardso, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, Lawerence J. White


Image Via Amazon


The financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008 led to one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in history. The bailout has already cost American taxpayers close to $150 billion, and substantially more will be needed. The U.S. economy–and by extension, the global financial system–has a lot riding on Fannie and Freddie. They cannot fail, yet that is precisely what these mortgage giants are guaranteed to do. How can we limit the damage to our economy, and avoid making the same mistakes in the future?
Guaranteed to Fail explains how poorly designed government guarantees for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to the debacle of mortgage finance in the United States, weighs different reform proposals, and provides sensible, practical recommendations. Despite repeated calls for tougher action, Washington has expanded the scope of its guarantees to Fannie and Freddie, fueling more and more housing and mortgages all across the economy–and putting all of us at risk. This book unravels the dizzyingly immense, highly interconnected businesses of Fannie and Freddie. It proposes a unique model of reform that emphasizes public-private partnership, one that can serve as a blueprint for better organizing and managing government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In doing so, Guaranteed to Fail strikes a cautionary note about excessive government intervention in markets.


8. The Transformation of Wall Street: A History of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Modern Corporate Finance by Joel Seligman


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The Transformation of Wall Street is a comprehensive and insightful historical analysis of the Securities & Exchange Commission from the perspective of a leader in securities regulation. The Transformation of Wall Streetoffers an in-depth look at the history of the SEC’s origins, accomplishments, and failings since its creation in 1934. Each chapter in the book takes historical look at the tenure of the various SEC chairmen. The first edition, published in 1977, covered the SEC through the Nixon-Ford presidential administration. A revised edition was published in 1995, updating the book through 1992. Now, the third edition continues the history until 2001, the end of Arthur Levitt’s Chairmanship, with a treatment of auditing issues through the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (July 2002). In this revised edition, author Joel Seligman draws on unpublished SEC files and extensive personal interviews to provide a comprehensive examination of the origins, accomplishments, and failings of the SEC and its leaders, from the creation of the SEC in 1934 to the present. The new material, among other things, addresses:

  • The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which has had a significant impact on private securities litigation after its passage in 1995
  • The structure of the securities markets (which are in an important transition because of Electronic Communications Networks; decimalization; international competition; and the continuing evolution to greater institutionalization of our markets as well as the growth of several new products, most recently security futures products)
  • Municipal securities markets (which were largely ignored before the recently resigned Arthur Levitt)
  • Several issues with respect to the accounting profession (most notably auditor independence and the independence of accounting standard-setting boards). In addition, this work focuses on Chairman Levitt, whom the author believes was one of the most accomplished of the post World War II chairs, and had the challenge of being a Chair appointed by a Democratic party president during a period when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress as well as a period of extraordinary ferment in the securities market.



9. No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos


Image Via Amazon


Harry Markopolos and his team of financial sleuths discuss first-hand how they cracked the Madoff Ponzi scheme

No One Would Listen is the thrilling story of how the Harry Markopolos, a little-known number cruncher from a Boston equity derivatives firm, and his investigative team uncovered Bernie Madoff’s scam years before it made headlines, and how they desperately tried to warn the government, the industry, and the financial press.

Page by page, Markopolos details his pursuit of the greatest financial criminal in history, and reveals the massive fraud, governmental incompetence, and criminal collusion that has changed thousands of lives forever-as well as the world’s financial system.

  • The only book to tell the story of Madoff’s scam and the SEC’s failings by those who saw both first hand
  • Describes how Madoff was enabled by investors and fiduciaries alike
  • Discusses how the SEC missed the red flags raised by Markopolos

Despite repeated written and verbal warnings to the SEC by Harry Markopolos, Bernie Madoff was allowed to continue his operations. No One Would Listen paints a vivid portrait of Markopolos and his determined team of financial sleuths, and what impact Madoff’s scam will have on financial markets and regulation for decades to come.



10. J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2019: For Preparing Your 2018 Tax Return by J.K. Lasser Institute


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J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2019 is the nation’s most trusted tax guide, updated to help you prepare your 2018 return. Step-by-step expert guidance walks you through the forms, calculations, and deadlines to help you file your taxes without the headaches. New changes including tax laws, IRS rulings, court decisions, and more are explained in plain English, backed by examples of how they apply to individual taxpayers like yourself. Explore your options in terms of deductions, income shelters, and planning strategies to maximize your savings and keep more of your money—without wading through volumes of dense tax code. This comprehensive yet accessible guide is your handbook for making your tax filing for 2018 easier than you thought possible.

Tax time does not have to be a source of stress and anxiety. With the experts at J.K. Lasser by your side, you can file correctly and on time while paying less than you thought; this book shows you everything you need to know, and gives you the answers you need right at your fingertips.

  • Learn how the latest changes from the IRS affect your return
  • Get trusted advice for maximizing deductions and sheltering income
  • Navigate the many IRS forms with step-by-step guidance
  • Start planning now to streamline next year’s filing

Keeping up with ever-changing tax laws is a full-time job, decoding incomprehensible IRS forms can be an exercise in frustration, and searching for the answers you need can often leave you with more questions. Americans have been turning to J.K. Lasser for over 75 years to find trusted guidance on critical tax issues. J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2019 is this year’s essential guide to taking the stress out of tax time.



11. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace


Image Via Amazon


The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.

The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace’s death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions–questions of life’s meaning and of the value of work and society–through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace’s unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.



12. Smithsonian Treasures of American History by Kathleen M. Kendrick


Image Via Amazon


The National Museum of American History–our country’s largest history museum and one of the Smithsonian’s most visited–preserves three million objects that capture the American story. From this vast collection, curators have handpicked more than 150 of the Museum’s most valued and amazing treasures–from the hat Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated to Jacqueline Kennedy’s inaugural gown and Dorothy’s ruby slippers; from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to Edison’s light bulb and Albert Einstein’s pipe; from an early box of Crayolas to one of the oldest pairs of Levi’s. Four separate sections devoted to “Creativity and Innovation,” “American Biography,” “National Challenges,” and “American Identity” reveal fascinating juxtapositions and startling connections on every page. This visual cornucopia of the material culture of American history reveals the familiar, the famous, and the unexpected at every turn.


This may be the longest government shutdown in history, but you have all the time in the world to try these books out!



Featured Image Via Youtube
A man rappels from the ceiling into a pile of books. Dramatization.

A Brief History of 7 Book Heists

You shouldn’t take a page from these criminals’ books. While library theft and the black market rare book trade can offer up million-dollar scores, there are plenty of reasons why these thefts don’t work out. The first reason is that after the heist, the re-sale poses a second, greater risk of capture. The second reason is that, sometimes, the book thieves are stoned when they enter the library in old man costumes. For more book heist shenanigans, read on:

1. The Transylvania University Book Heist


Kentucky's Transylvania University - "Majoring in Crime"

Image Via Vanity Fair


Get ready for the first time you’ll hear the phrase “one part Ocean’s Eleven, one part Harold & Kumar” used to describe a large-scale heist… or really anything at all. Stoned out of their minds— not just then but also, perpetually—a group of four college students blundered through one of the FBI’s most significant cases of art theft (the story behind recent film American Animalsstarring Evan Peters). When student Warren Lipka’s beloved soccer coach father (Big Warren) amassed a big gambling debt, Small Warren (not his actual nickname) withdrew to the fringes of university life. After learning the basics of identity theft from a shady-but-still-preppy alumni, Lipka’s freshman orientation tour of Transylvania University’s library gave him a twelve-million-dollar idea: to steal the university’s first-edition copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America


"A brazen plot doomed to fail"

Image Via Kentucky News


Lipka recalls telling a co-conspirator: “there was zero security other than an old librarian named BJ and having to sign a fucking book.” So the gang did what anyone would do— they made a fake ‘professor’s’ email, wore old-man makeup so bad two of the would-be criminals were turned away from the library, and tasered the hell out of BJ. After the theft, they booked it to Christie’s auction house to get the book appraised. Co-conspirator Spencer Reinhard reflects on the decision:


The way I rationalized it was: it’s the biggest auction house. If we go in there they’re not going to suspect that we stole these. Because no one would go to Christie’s with stolen books to get them appraised—that’s how we did a lot of stuff, like, we would smoke weed directly under the [security] camera on the Transy campus, park a car right underneath it and then smoke for like an hour. We figured the more obvious [we were], the less likely [we would be suspected].


Even Peters as Warren Lipka in 'American Animals'

Image Via Seattle Weekly


Reinhard’s recollection becomes even more ironic when you consider they were caught when—while under FBI surveillance—the gang saw heist film Ocean’s Twelve and verbally compared it with their own heist as they sat in the public movie theater. The kicker? They never even managed to sell the books.


2. The ‘Mission Impossible’ Rare Book Thieves


A man rappels from a ceiling to a stack of books. Dramatization.

Image Via YouTube


In January of 2017, three thieves rappelled from the skylight of a London warehouse to steal over 160 books, among them original works of Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, and Galileo Galilei. Though they covered a distance of over forty feet from the roof to their 2.5 million dollar score, they managed never to trigger the warehouse’s motion detectors. Though the Transy heist is more infamous, there’s one major difference between the two robberies: these criminals were never caught. (And even if they were, they probably aren’t hiding the stolen goods in a bag beneath their marijuana grow.) Based on the lack of evidence, authorities suspect the books were not stolen for resale but for a private collection—which is evidence that the ridiculously wealthy must get pretty bored.


3. The Ironic (and Iconic) Harvard Bible Thief


The Harvard University library

Image Via Garden Home & Party


The ‘Mission Impossible’ book thieves weren’t the only ones to try some spy-movie action moves in order to commit a totally badass white collar theft—they were just the ones who could pull it off. In 1969, burglar Vido Aras  (his lack of a code name should foreshadow just how well this goes for him) attempted to rappel into the Harvard University library to steal its rare Gutenberg Bible. The alarm system was easy. The climb? Not so much. After slipping from his rope, Aras fell forty feet, where police soon found him unconscious on the floor, Bible still in hand. Looks like thou shalt not steal… from Harvard University.


4. The 8-Million-Dollar Carnegie Library Theft


Gregory Priore Arrested

Image Via Pittsburgh CBS


Though no one discovered the theft until this past year, it’s been going on for nearly twenty. Greg Priore, sole archivist of the rare books collection, made an excellent case for not leaving only one person in charge of incredibly valuable things by stealing 8 million dollars of material. An inside job, the thefts were primarily ‘cannibalism,’ a term which in this case refers to removing pages or sections from valuable works. (It doesn’t refer to the consumption of human flesh, which would make this a very different sort of crime.) This technique of stealing pages instead of volumes makes the materials easier to sell and more challenging to track. Rather than using elaborate methods to extract the documents, Priore admitted to flat-out rolling them up. His explanation? “Greed came on.” When caught, he told authorities: “you got me, I screwed up.” Slick.

5. The Case of Hemingway’s Lost Novel


Earnest Hemingway

Image Via Biography


In 1922, Hadley Hemingway (wife of Ernest Hemingway— the first of many, though she presumably didn’t know that at the time) brought the longhand originals of her husband’s ongoing novelization of his WWI experiences with her on a train to Paris. Though nobody is certain exactly what happened, one thing is tragically apparent: her suitcase was stolen, and the novel was lost to time. Hemingway famously stated that he “would have opted for surgery if he knew it could erase the memory of his loss,” though it was, of course, 1920, when surgery could hardly do anything at all. When drunk (so, often) Hemingway frequently claimed this theft was the reason behind his divorce from Hadley. It still doesn’t explain his divorce from all the others.


6. The Original Master Book Thief


James R Shinn, renowned book thief

Image Via Tumblr


In 1981, the police questioned a sloppily-dressed man in Muhlenberg College’s Haas Library on his second suspicious visit. Understandably nervous, the unknown man asked if he could smoke in the conference room. When the officers left to get him an ashtray (as if only to demonstrate that this case is from the 1980s), the man bolted. It might have been a cool move—had his driver’s license and motel receipt not fallen from his pocket with the cigarettes. Upon searching the room, Pennsylvania law enforcement discovered twenty-six valuable stolen books, along with plans to steal over a hundred more. Proving he was an expert, the unknown man also had dyes, counterfeit title pages, and a cache of fake IDs. Proving he was shady, he also had a gun and a copy of How to Disappear and Live Freely.


A masked burglar hauls a sack through a library. Dramatization.

Image Via Satirev


Investigations revealed that culprit James R. Shinn didn’t just steal books—he tricked people into giving them away. Shinn was also a con man who frequently posed as a reputable book dealer, receiving rare book shipments and then falsifying the payment. And he didn’t just rob Muhlenberg College—he’d robbed dozens of other college libraries. Authorities marvelled: “he’s always sloppy… he never carries identification— that way, even if he’s stopped, they figure he’s just a sloppy bum.” The law might have taken his books and twenty years of his life, but they couldn’t take his legacy: Shinn is the reason the criminal charge ‘Library Theft‘ exists.


7. The Book Heist Road Trip


A burglar in a library. Dramatization.

Image Via Blogspot


Robert Kindred was a thirty-four-year-old high school dropout with no plans of attending college. He was wrong about one thing—he would go to a prestigious university, not just one but several, just not go as a student. Tearing across Texas in his Cadillac, he carried with him a trunk full of stolen books and a roadmap of universities that offered open library stacks, whose commitment to intellectual enthusiasm was exactly what made them so easy to rob.


The University of Illinois' Library

Image Via Cappex


After moving on from Texas to sack universities in New Orleans and Washington D.C., Kindred and accomplice Green encountered an obstacle—the closed library at the University of Illinois, which tantalizingly contained many books on Kindred’s wish list. His plan was simple: break in, loot books, and lower the goods to the parking lot by rope. Startlingly, the plan itself didn’t go wrong—instead, a security guard pulled, unbothered, into the parking lot for the first time in five nights. The heist went wrong, but not even that wrong: as we’ve already established that library theft was not yet a criminal charge, Kindred only got probation. Accomplice Green received no punishment at all.



Featured Image Via Thedailybeast.com


Archaeologists Identify Ruins of 1,800-Year-Old Library

In Cologne, Germany, a set of ancient Roman walls that were found last year have been identified as a public library – the oldest in Germany.





Image Via Atlas Obscura



The walls were uncovered last year during the construction of a community center on the same site and are estimated to be about 1,800 years old.



Archaeologists were able to identify the building as a library thanks to distinctive niches carved into the walls. They were initially confusing since, at roughly 30 inches by 20 inches in size, they were too small to have contained the statues that often sat in niches in Roman buildings. It was eventually determined that the niches had contained scrolls. The building would have contained thousands of scrolls and archaeologists believe that it was open to the public, although not many people at the time could actually read.




Featured Image Via Atlas Obscura