‘Paradise Lost’: A Theft from Helsinki University Library

Esko Häkli

Abstract


Traditionally, research libraries in the Nordic countries have followed the policy of being open, public libraries. They have been rather reluctant to apply restrictions even to the use of their rare materials. In this liberal atmosphere, libraries and, above all, their staff have based their own behaviour on trust. They have believed that their users are honest and will not cause any damage to the collections, much less display any criminal intent. Serious abuse of this trust – if we exclude the everyday behaviour of university students – has been extremely rare, and this has encouraged staff in these beliefs. Thefts and mutilation of items from the collections have seldom occurred. This background explains, at least partly, why the thefts last year in my Library were such a serious shock, and so upset some members of staff. We had to admit that we were no longer living in a paradise, or in a safe haven. As a result of the globalisation of crime, the world had lost its innocence even in remote Helsinki.

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