back to article 'Stolen' art found on nearby shelf. Police keep looking anyway

Artworks which went missing from the Boston Public Library, leading to FBI involvement and the resignation of the library's president, have been found on a shelf in the library. The Boston Globe reported that the pair of rare prints were found a day after president Amy Ryan announced her resignation. The prints – an Albrecht …

  1. Picky
    Happy

    Head in the Cloud storage?

    Sounds like an early form of storage system ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Head in the Cloud storage?

      More like

      'Obscured By Clouds'

      and the head of the Museum couldn't put 'Another Brick in the Wall' so she was lead outside and fed to the 'Animals' (the press)

      1. Jedit

        Re: Head in the Cloud storage?

        All those Floyd puns and you couldn't come up with "up against The Wall"?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Head in the Cloud storage?

        the head of the Museum

        The BPL is a library, not a museum. The hint is in the name.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Head in the Cloud storage?

      Actually, it sounds more like the desktop of someone I know the last time I got talked into helping them with their "computer stuff". There might have been a desktop wallpaper under there, I couldn't tell.

  2. Lee D Silver badge

    I had a guy working with me in an IT team once, both doing the same job under an IT Manager.

    We noticed things occasionally went missing. A disc here. A component there (RAM, disc, fans, etc.). The disc with the VLK pre-burnt into it one day.

    We knew what was happening, but couldn't gather evidence to do anything about it. When he wound himself up to leave of his own accord, our boss dropped-in a sideways mention of the missing things in the course of conversation (no accusation, just "Oh, have you seen the X disc because we can't find it", etc.) Later that week, another casual mention that the VLK installs could be tracked (he wasn't bright enough to know that the tracking wasn't actually that good, especially not without making a lot of fuss with Microsoft, etc.).

    The day he did decide to leave, he came in at 5:00am. He was friendly with the caretakers, so they let him in before anyone else. He told them he was working early. By 8:00am, he'd gone and never came back. But that day we found discs and components and VLK discs tucked into odd places where they'd never been before, and where we would have noticed them immediately if they'd been there the day before.

    Strange that. Rather that than have to prosecute the guy (which I don't think we'd have done anyway), but it was one of those things that I won't forget. My boss at the time said she got a reference request for him a few weeks later, from a security firm to monitor CCTV for theft, etc. I would love to know exactly what she wrote, but I have a pretty shrewd idea what kind of lines it would have gone down, even if there was no way she could write a direct accusation in it.

    1. Ralph B

      VLK

      Volume License Key

      (In case you were as baffled as me.)

    2. h4rm0ny

      >>"My boss at the time said she got a reference request for him a few weeks later, from a security firm to monitor CCTV for theft, etc. I would love to know exactly what she wrote, but I have a pretty shrewd idea what kind of lines it would have gone down, even if there was no way she could write a direct accusation in it."

      "Well," she might have replied, "set a thief to catch a thief."

      1. Tom 13

        @h4rm0ny

        No, that's too direct and could get you in legal trouble. It would be more along the lines of:

        "You will be most fortunate to have this man catch a thief for you."

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      amateur...

      All you need is A pen and paper. The disk means next to nothing, it's all about the keys (I did used to use a maps pack licence for win 7 but since found a load of discarded pc's with usable licence keys...the joys of techy bin diving).

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: amateur...

        He was IT staff, so if he'd asked, we'd have given him a key to use even at home (it was a school, so certain educational agreements allow that).

        There's a reason that KMS was introduced, however.

  3. LaeMing

    Never mis-file on the stacks!

    That's why the public generally don't get stack access in a library and have to ask a librarian to get something - if it is mis-filed on the stacks it can take years-to-never to find it again!

    1. DNTP

      Re: Never mis-file on the stacks!

      Out of all the misdeeds and rules I've ever broken coming up through the school system a one thing I never ever screwed around with was trying to re-file library books.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/29/bofh_2008_episode_7/

      Librarians ARE vampires, or the very next thing to vampires. You'll accidentally misfile a book and then realize that even though you thought you were alone there was a librarian silently watching from three feet behind you. And according to at least one town librarian, "We know where you, and your family, and your friends, all live."

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Never mis-file on the stacks!

        "but didn’t keep records to accompany them".

        There needs to be an icon for being in shock!

        DNTP has got it pinned.

        If there is one thing that defines a librarian it's the drive to put things in the right order, in the right category, in the right place.

        So Boston!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      2. Tom 13

        @DNTP

        "We know where you, and your family, and your friends, all live."

        Of course they do! Why else would the NSA have wanted all that library data about you?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Never mis-file on the stacks!

      That's why the public generally don't get stack access in a library

      For sufficiently small values of "generally".

      I've used many libraries, public, private, and university, over the past forty-odd years. Most of them had some staff-only stacks; a few were entirely staff-only. But most had at least some stacks that were open to patrons. And yes, misfiling was a regular occurrence, even when the libraries had prominent "Do not reshelve books!" signs and reshelving carts liberally scattered about.

  4. Robert Helpmann??
    Coat

    Define "Library"

    The library has no central inventory list of what it owns, and there is no catalogue of each item.

    So more unstructured data than stacks?

    - Mine's the one without various lost works in the pocket.

  5. Nolveys
    Windows

    It's Like That In Lots Of Places

    ...a system in which her predecessors voraciously acquired collections for the library, but didn’t keep records to accompany them.

    I would imagine almost everyone here has worked at a place like that at one time or another, exchanging "collections" for "random crap" and "for the library" for "to cram into wherever it would fit".

    I remember one computer repair room that was inherited from someone who had left after 15 years, when he was done with something he would just dump it at one end of the room. Gradually removing the refuse took months. Digging down into the heap was like going backward in time, it felt like we were on an archeological dig. We even found a 2.5m x 1m table and a set of shelves that were completely obscured when we started, the shelves fell off the wall when the load-bearing piles of filth and MFM hard drives were removed.

    1. BobRocket
      Joke

      Re: It's Like That In Lots Of Places

      I've got a library like that, well more a collection of things that I add to voraciously and the only record is a faint recollection,

      I've got a socket set in my agglomeration somewhere but I'm buggered if I can find it.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    No records of any kind

    I tried to find out how long this Amy had been in charge, but the website of the BPL mentions no date information for anyone - not the President, not the Board members. No timeline of any kind.

    So I am a bit torn when I read that she complains about no records being put in place. Nice to complain when stepping down, dear, but what did you do about it when you were in charge ?

    Maybe she did do something, or try to do something, but I can find no record of that either.

    In final analysis, however, it is the Board that is ultimately remiss in its duties. Not having a catalog of acquisitions is really a disastrous display of not being aware of their responsibilities.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: No records of any kind

      Have you been to the BPL?

      A dedicated president could spend years trying to get that place organized and end up with most of it still a confused mess. It's a large, old institution which, as Ryan said, rarely observed any sort of cataloging discipline in the past. Getting it all sorted now requires as much archaeology as library science.

      Of course, that's a good part of its charm, too, at least for the right sort of bibliophile. I was very fond of the BPL when I lived in Boston. But then I keep my own personal library arranged in serendipity order (a pseudorandom permutation of volumes that evolves by my refusing to reshelve anything anywhere near where I got it from). Of course, I only have a couple thousand volumes to worry about.

  7. BobRocket

    Catalogue as you go

    'A library statement claims that 14 library workers searched through 180,000 of the print stacks' 320,000 items before the missing items were discovered.'

    I bet that they didn't catalogue the items as they sifted through them, had they done that they would already be more than halfway through.

    They probably just routed through them in no particular order, moving and mixing them as they went along.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Catalogue as you go

      True, but had they been cataloging as they went the search would have been much slower and it would have taken much longer to find these items.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Catalogue as you go

      I bet that they didn't catalogue the items as they sifted through them, had they done that they would already be more than halfway through.

      Hilarious. Yes, they claim to have looked through over half the items in the circulating print stacks. But the BPL has another 900,000 items in its branch libraries, and about 20 million more in archival collections. "halfway through" is pretty much meaningless.

      And the circulating stacks are cataloged. It's some of the other collections that aren't well-cataloged, and more importantly the lack of a central catalog - which is a database merge problem, not one of physically examining the collections.

      And cataloging takes a lot longer than simply looking through stacks. If they'd cataloged as they went (had that even been a useful thing to do), they would have gotten through a lot less material, or needed a lot more staff.

      I know, I know. Reg readers are smarter than everyone else.

  8. Tanuki

    I blame that darned Dewey Decimal System.

    (hence my suggestion that libraries should file books etc. by size and colour rather than by subject or author - then you could immediately see if one was out of place in the stacks!)

    1. harmjschoonhoven
      Thumb Up

      Re: file books etc. by size

      The Artis Zoo library in Amsterdam does exactly that. It is the most efficient use of shelf space.

    2. Thecowking

      My school library colour coded its Dewey Decimal stickers on the spines.

      Only down to the hundreds level, but it meant seeing a grossly misfiled book was easy.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      The crown Prince of Austria does that in one of his palaces (along with the world's most expensive item of furniture) wonderful looking library but only open for 2 hours a month.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I blame that darned Dewey Decimal System.

      Lots of public libraries in the US are switching to the Library of Congress cataloging system. (Most university libraries already have.) Not that it matters, for the purpose of your argument.

  9. Elmer Phud

    Traditional index system

    "The library has no central inventory list of what it owns, and there is no catalogue of each item. "

    'Ask Old Joe, he knows where everything is'

    "Can't, he was seen as being an unproductive operative . . ."

  10. lawndart

    says

    I lent them that Durer way back, must be twenty years ago. If they are not going to display the thing I shall have to ask them to give it back :)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police keep looking anyway

    In next week's news:

    "Police Shoot Unarmed Black Man Running From Boston Library".

    A police spokesman said that although no crime had been comitted, they were there anyway, and it wouldn't do to have officers standing around doing nothing. The black man had been seen being suspiciously quiet in the library, hiding his face in a book, and leaving with a bag that could easily have contained stolen items rather than borrowed books. Better safe than sorry, eh?

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the police are continuing to inventory and figure out "what's missing", even though there's no need?

    Good opportunity for them to ensure a whole bunch of stuff _is_ missing (and never recorded as such).

    Unfortunately... not joking. :(

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      The library CCTV footage, perhaps, is at greater risk now than ever before.

  14. Captain DaFt

    "a system in which her predecessors voraciously acquired collections for the library, but didn’t keep records to accompany them."

    And now we know what the head of the NSA did at his previous job.

  15. x 7

    this library sounds like it belongs to one of those Swiss Banks that was so friendly with the germans, and always claim they can't track the origins of what they have....

  16. Madmanwithabox

    A prominent figure in the library community had this to add: "Ook!"

    1. Pedigree-Pete
      Thumb Up

      Ook!

      Thank you Madmanwithabox. You've restored my faith in my fellow commentards . Shame on you previous posters missing that opportunity

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well worth a trip to the library if you are in Boston. Not just a great building, but the restaurant does good food and an excellent afternoon tea; a bargain compared to London prices.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021