October 18, 2018

A librarian and a bookseller to be arraigned for rare book trafficking


During a recent appraisal of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s rare book room, it was discovered that a significant number of books were missing.

Photo via Carnegie Rare Book Stamps and The Pittsburg Post-Gazette

After an investigation, evidence pointed towards library archivist Gregory Priore and bookseller John Schulman. Prosecutors estimate Priore and Schulman stole and damaged $8 million worth of rare books. Yikes.

In an email found by Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, Schulman wrote a note to himself with ideas on where the books may have disappeared to. Although the email was not sent to Priore, it is assumed Schulman was drafting ideas to help Priore explain the missing books. Therefore, by creating fake “alibis” the duo was attempting to get away with the crime. How did they try to get away with it? In summary, from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the bookseller-turned-thief suggested in the note:

1) Make a list of missing or misplaced titles and include some (or most) but not all of the ones that are actually missing, plus a mix of other titles that were missing but later located.

2) Revise the previous appraisal to exclude missing books.

3) Emphasize that the rare books room is too accessible. Too many people have keys and there are visitors that are left unattended.

4) Suggest some of the missing books are out for rebinding or repair.

5) Create fake records of loans to other parts of the museum for their purposes–Fine Arts or Natural History.

6) Due to the closing of part of the facility in the early 2000s, the missing books have been merely misplaced in the chaos and will eventually be located.

You may think that with one of these ideas, Schulman and Priore could successfully dodge any charges against them. But in a statement to investigators, Priore admitted he approached Schulman about stealing and selling the books. Busted. As reported in WESA, an arraignment for the duo is scheduled for November 29.

We hope the books will be returned to their rightful home soon.




Christina Cerio is the Manager of Direct Sales & Special Projects at Melville House.