By Susan Dickson
CHAPEL HILL â€“Â When the Chapel Hill Public Library moved into its temporary location at University Mall last fall, an unwelcome follower made the move too â€“ a so-called book slasher.
Assistant library director Mark Bayles said library staff began noticing damaged books last year before the library made its move to allow for the expansion of its location off Estes Drive. Apparently, someone had been cutting out sections of books â€“ books on the art of writing or publishing in particular.
It seemed someone was doing the slashing within the library, and, all told, at least a few hundred dollars worth of books were damaged, Bayles said.
â€œWe can tell the last time a book was checked out,â€ he said. â€œThese were materials that had been back in the library for some time.â€
A couple of months ago, library staff put up posters asking for patrons to help them in catching the vandal, offering a $100 reward â€“ paid for by the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library â€“ for information leading to the culprit.
â€œWe came up with the idea of putting up the wanted posters to, in one sense, make the person aware that we were aware of their activity and also to enlist the aid of the public,â€ Bayles said.
Since then, staff have not discovered additional slashed books, he said, but staff never caught the vandal, nor did they have any leads.
Bayles said that while the library has had issues with damaged books before â€“ like patrons writing comments in the margins of books â€“Â heâ€™s never seen anyone â€œsystematically attacking a specific section of books like this.â€
He hopes the slashing has stopped for good.
â€œThese are public materials, and this is vandalism,â€ Bayles said.