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OAKLAND (KDKA) — The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main location in Oakland appears to be the victim of a massive theft crime.
Last April, 314 extremely rare items were discovered to be missing from the rare books room, or the Oliver Room. That room has never been open to the public; it’s available by appointment only. According to the library, scholars and researchers are the types of people who use it.
According to the library, theft happened over an extended period of time in the Oliver Room where some of the items date back as early as 1477.
Library spokeswoman Suzanne Thinnes told KDKA, “We are deeply saddened by this breach of trust. The missing and damaged items were discovered last spring during an insurance appraisal as part of a multi-year effort to enhance and preserve our unique collections.”
A first edition of Isaac Newton’s “Principia” is one of the stolen items. So is a first edition of Adam Smith’s “A Wealth of Nations.”
“How is that possible with security and people all around? I don’t know how that’s possible,” said Adah Gana, a library patron.
Our news partners at the Post-Gazette spoke to a rare book dealer who estimates the value of the stolen property to be $5 million.
“I don’t know how bad the library system in the area will be affected by this,” said David Harknett, a library patron.
Thinnes told KDKA, “As of now, suspect(s) have been identified and additional details will be shared by the District Attorney’s office at a later date.”
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office will not comment on their investigation because this is still an open case. The staff member responsible for the collection is no longer employed by the library.
A full list of the stolen materials can be found on the Post-Gazette’s website here.