Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stealing books in Pakistan

Voltaire once bumped into Newton near Piccadilly Square and after noticing a book sticking out of Newton’s pocket, said “to steal a book is not a crime”.
Stealing books, perhaps the most selfish of all forms of theft, has a history that dates back to the beginning of libraries. In the Middle Ages books were rare and thus became a great temptation for the readers who stole library books.
In Britain, the punishment for stealing books had included deportation to Australia; a punishment reserved at that time for hardened criminals.
But history shows that some of the most shameless book thieves emerged not from the criminal fringe but from the ranks of piety and respectability. A good example is Dr. Elois Pichler, a Bavarian theologian and one of many German librarians employed in the Russian Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg. From 1869 to 1871, he committed the largest theft of books on record from a European library. He was caught in 1871 with about 4000 volumes. He wore a large, bulky overcoat that had been fitted with a special inside sack, in which he hid his stolen books. His collection included rare and valuable volumes as well as a large number of ordinary items bearing no relation to his research. He was found guilty and sentenced to exile in Siberia. read (more>>)

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