April 23, 2018

Pedophile in Alabama Library Damages Hundreds of Books

By LJ Staff

The Wheeler Basin Library, Decatur, AL has been plagued by a pedophile vandal, who has left child pornography on the library bulletin board, scrawled come-ons on the bathroom wall, and razored out hundreds of pages of children in children’s and adult books. Library director Sandra Sherman estimates that 425 books have been damaged, with losses (including processing costs) over $13,000 – nearly 50 percent more than the materials budget for the children’s department. Police believe it is a single person who collects pictures of children and attaches them to pornographic pictures, Sherman said. While library staffers believe the problem began last year, when they received reports of pages missing, a more concerted check of children’s and then adult books showed hundreds with pages missing. ‘What this guy is doing is razoring pages out so carefully you have to count them to find that he’s taken them out,’ she said.

Can library records help catch the miscreant? The library is part of an automation consortium, Library Management Network, and the policy is that circulation records are wiped clean when a book is returned. Sherman said she asked the consortium board if records could be held for a week or two, thus giving staff more time to look at a book after it’s returned, but they said no. Now, instead of actually checking in a returned children’s book, volunteers go through the book page by page and place a dot on those that are whole. ‘We know he’s still at it,’ Sherman said, because a staffer erred and checked in a book before it could be scrutinized. She said the library would add security cameras and try to keep a closer eye on those using the facility. ‘I’m hoping he’s gainfully employed, so I can get paid for these books,’ she said, noting that last vandal at the library didn’t have any income to pay for the damage.