Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thief in the Archives

By now I am sure readers of this blog have read the sad and disturbing news about Daniel Lorello, a NY state archivist accused of stealing valuable historical documents from the archives where he worked and attempting to sell them on the online auction website eBay. For those who have not read the story, the gory details are available via the Associated Press (AP).

According to AP, Lorello was earning $71 000 + a year in the state archives. What was he thinking? Blaming his need to pay bills and his daughter's credit card debt, Lorello stole several invaluable items from the state archives, selling them online or at trade shows.

I guess Lorello thought no one would notice, no one would care if a few items went missing. A few documents here, a few documents there; no one would find out the items were gone. No one would notice a few missing papers and artifacts. How else can you explain his actions?

Working in an archives, one either naturally respects or learns to respect the documents in his or her possession. It is as simple as that. Apparently, Lorello lost that respect and somehow figured he could make a profit.

Thankfully, there was someone who did care and respect the value: a history buff who spotted some of the unique items on eBay.

In many ways, I am glad Lorello stole the items and was eventually caught. He must have thought he could have gotten away with these thefts.

His actions, while thoroughly deplorable, unethical, and criminal, shed light, once again, on the need for individuals, communities and governments, local and federal alike, to seriously look into the institutions resposible for preserving the past, lest the past that sustains our present and guides our future vanish - or be stolen by those whom society has tasked with protecting it.

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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.