St. Paul library worker suspected of stealing 1,400 itemsby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio,
Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — St. Paul police say they have arrested a St. Paul Public Library employee suspected of stealing hundreds of books, magazines and CDs.
Police say a search warrant executed at the 30-year-old St. Paul woman's home found more than 1,400 items suspected to have been taken from the library system.
The employee has not yet been formally charged. She was being held in the Ramsey County jail, but police said she would be released while the investigation continued.
Police are trying to figure out how long the woman had been stealing library items. She has worked for five St. Paul Public Library branches since 1998.
At the time of her arrest, she held a clerical job at Central Library, where she assisted with the library's Web site and helped with other digital services.
The police investigation started after library officials told officers they had noticed a pattern of irregularity in the status of unreturned materials. The library's own investigation connected the irregularities back to the employee.
"We uncovered this in the course of business and have pursued it aggressively," said Kit Hadley, library director for the St. Paul Public Library. "It's completely unacceptable."
According to police, the employee's scheme included creating fraudulent library accounts, waiving library fees without authorization and noting items as "lost" in the library inventory system.
Police are working to determine the value of the stolen items.
Hadley said the library is conducting an inventory to determine if other items were stolen.
"We understand that the collection and all the resources here at the library belong to the public," Hadley said. "And we work hard to make them available to support people in using them. It's our job to protect these precious public resources."
The woman has also worked at the Highland Park, Merriam Park, Saint Anthony, and Rice Street library branches. She has been placed on administrative leave.
Elizabeth Dunbar is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.