Saturday, 7 April 2007

Karen Churton, the New Zealand Pacific librarian at Massey University's Palmerston North campus, has been jailed for 11 months for stealing books from the library, reports David Eames in The New Zealand Herald. Only the existence of a paper record enabled head librarian John Redmayne and police to discover the thefts.

Police inadvertently stumbled on her case while Operation Pukapuka (Maori for books), "an inquiry into a national book theft racket that had stolen more than $1 million worth of library books over the past decade", was in progress.

When confronted with the accusation, she denied it, then began deleting computer records. But Redmayne stumbled across the truth while reading a hard-copy book list one day.

"She made a confession to stealing six books in the 12 months from March 2002, for a combined value of $23,310."

Some of the books had been part of a bequest by Turnbull Library scholar and bibliographer Austin Graham Bagnall.

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