Heights History: The Library Vandal

The New York Times reported on a “mystery about whodunits” at the old Montague Street Library (197 Montague Street between Court and Clinton) on February 9, 1948.

For a “period of several months” librarians noticed that someone was “systematically” crossing out all references to God in the library’s mystery book collection. Phrases such as “Oh God,” “Lord Help Us” and “Heavens” were among those scratched out by the culprit.

Library officials were on the lookout for an “omnivorous reader” of the genre as “nearly every book” had been mutilated with either a dull knife or eraser. Among the vandal’s favorites were the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy Sayers and The Norths series by Richard and Frances Lockridge . However, clerks were quick to add that since the Montague Street branch had been Brooklyn’s main library for so long that thousands of users had checked out those books over the period in question. The fact that mystery fans tend to read all books by one author made the hunt ever more difficult prompting one librarian to tell the Times, “It looks like we’ll have to call in Ellery Queen.”

The NY Times never wrote a follow-up on whether the culprit was ever found. The Montague Street Library was torn down in 1960.

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  • nabeguy

    Probably a BHA member…we all know what crackpots they are!