Document taken at local library

The detective work of the manuscripts curator for UVM’s Bailey-Howe led to the discovery of a stolen document nearly sold to the library.

A Colchester, Vt. resident pled not guilty in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington on charges of stealing an important historical document, according to the Burlington Free Press.

Patrick Rooney, age 55, stole the document from the Fletcher Free Library, and attempted to sell it to Bailey-Howe, according to the Burlington Police press release.

The document was discovered by Chris Burns, the manuscript’s curator who works for the center for digital initiatives at Bailey-Howe.

“The reason the document was discovered was Chris’s great detective work,” Mara Saule, dean of library and information services, said.

The digitalization of the special documents was the reason the document was discovered, Saule said.

The document seemed familiar to Burns, when Anita DeAngelis, a cataloger at the Fletcher Free Library, contacted him about scanning the document to be included online.

He double checked, and noticed markers, such as coffee stains and a small piece missing from the document, Burns said.

He then contacted the Fletcher Free Library, who then contacted the Burlington Police Department, Burns said.

The document is 223 years old and pertains to the town of Sterling according to the Burlington Free Press.

“I’m extremely surprised that someone was willing to take a respected historical document from the Fletcher Free Library and then have the courage to try to sell it to the University’s Bailey-Howe Library,” first-year Steve Davids said.

“It says a lot about how low people are willing to stoop just to get something like a little money,” Davids said.

The document’s value is estimated at $500, and was offered for sale at $175, according to the release.

Given its age and historical significance in relation to Ira Allen, the document is described as priceless, according to a police affidavit written by Burlington detective corporal Michael Hemond.

No significant damage was done to the document when it was removed from the book, “The Proprietors Volume,” according to the affidavit.

The book is locked in a glass case in the historical holding area at the Fletcher Free Library, according to the Burlington Free Press.

A library patron can request to look at the documents, however no library personnel stay in the room with the patron while he or she views the documents, Hemond said.

That there is no maintenance of a log of who has accessed the book, Hemond added.

Rooney confessed to taking the document, according to Hemond.

Rooney claimed that, “the page had been totally out of place in the book” and was randomly placed at the end of one of the sections, Hemond said.

Rooney admitted to having the document in his possession since at least 2010, when the document was scanned, according to the affidavit.

At the Bailey-Howe Library, there are several security measures in place in order to prevent an incident like this from occurring, Burns said.

These measures include cameras in the special collections section of library, and special tables where people who wish to view these rare collections must sit, Burns said.

People must register to use these materials, and can only take a little bit of material at once, according to Burns.

“For one, I’m extremely surprised that this guy encountered little to no difficulty in stealing the document. Secondly, the mere lack of security and little to no notification or awareness of a missing document raises some important questions,” first-year Nick Baldaro said.