Bibliomutilation in Denver

Jacob Schor ND, FABNO

December 15, 2011


In a world in which tragedies of enormous magnitude occur with seemingly clockwork regularity, I find myself dwelling on what is a relatively minor problem. 


I attend monthly meetings of a small committee that steers the selection of books on complementary medicine for a special collection at the medical school library here on the Anschutz campus.  The other night the head librarian updated our group on what has been an ongoing problem with this collection.  Someone has been stealing books, lots of books, and with what had been great regularity.  Working with the police department, the library was able to successfully apprehend the culprit.  Below is a news story on this matter.  The online version portrays a photo of the suspects face.


Modern libraries protect their books with multiple security tags that will ring alarms when removed from the library without being checked out properly.  Thus in order to remove these materials, the suspect cut the covers off of the books or hacked off sections of the cover to remove these security devices.  Although the news report says many of the books have been returned, few are in usable condition.        They have been mutilated.  I was horrified looking at samples of this destruction that the librarians brought in to show us.


The culprit apparently ransacked the collections of a number of local libraries stealing books with a special focus on traditional Chinese medicine.  The Denver Public Library is reporting losses in the range of $100,000.  The medical school library has not yet totaled its losses.


For various reasons of upbringing and education, I treasure books and find this business horrifying.  Though apprehended by the police, I cannot conceive that this individual will be able to change his book acquisition habits, but will simply be forced to widen his territory.  In other words, I don’t think we have seen the end of him or his addiction.


If you are associated with any libraries or book collections especially ones that contain books on alternative medicine, I encourage you to pass this information on to those who attend the front desk and keep your eyes out. 


For more information about the Anschutz Library's collection of books on alternative and complementary medicine go to:



For the 9News story on the book thief’s apprehension go to:


AURORA -If you've ever been in a public library, you know you can rent as many books as you like for a very small cost, if any. That is why Library Director Jerry Perry just doesn't understand why someone would want to steal them.


"It's a little confounding to me. I've never seen anything like this before. You really don't need to take from the library. You can also Xerox. There's really no reason," Perry said on Friday.


He is the director for the University of Colorado-Denver Health Sciences Library.


Perry says he started to notice a collection of books going missing in January. Most of the books were from the integrated medicine and Chinese medicine areas.


Over the course of almost a year, more than 800 medical books went missing from three local libraries, including the Health Sciences Library, the Denver Public Library and the Aurora Public Library.


"He usually hit the first or second Sunday of the month," said Det. Sgt. Mike Fischer with the University of Colorado Denver Police Department said.


After months of investigating, Fischer arrested 52-year-old Glenn Lyons.


"He confessed to taking all the books from the Health Science Center. He gave us consent to search his home. When he didm we found over 500 books from the Denver Public Library, 50 books from the Aurora Public Library and around 65 from the Health Science Center," Fischer said.


Of the 65 books stolen from the Health Science Center, about 50 percent have been returned.


"Of those though, a good number were damaged or mutilated. Some of the books were torn from the cover. In one instance, [he] pulled [the pages] out sheet by sheet. The call numbers on some of the books were also removed or inked out," Perry said.


When Fischer asked Lyons why he stole the books, Lyons said, "I'm just a lover of books."


Perry says for someone who is a "lover of books," he didn't take very good of care of them.


"The thing that confounds me the most is that if someone wants a book so badly that you would almost destroy it or ruin it," Perry said.


Every book at every library has a security bar, but Lyons was able to get around it. After disabling the bar, he would put them in his backpack and leave sometimes with nine or 10 books at a time.


Lyons has bonded out of Adams County Jail, but he will have to face charges from other jurisdictions where he also stole books, including the Denver Police Department.


9NEWS tried to contact him, but he no longer lives at his previously listed place of residence.


Fischer says about 85 percent of all the books that were stolen have been returned.


(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)