Valuable 19th-century volumes were lost from the University of Warsaw Library. The director of the facility lost her job, and the rector of the University of Warsaw appointed a commission to explain how this happened. He also commissioned an audit of the rules and procedures for lending collections. The police and the prosecutor’s office were notified about the case. The dismissed director issued a statement. She wrote, among other things, that the loss of collections was her most difficult professional experience, but she was convinced that all procedures for protection and information about the situation had been completed.
The dismissal of the director was announced by prof. Alojzy Z. Nowak, rector of the University of Warsaw. “Due to the lack of proper supervision over the BUW collections and the failure to implement appropriate measures to secure the BUW library collections, Ms. Anna Wołodko, the current director of the BUW, was dismissed today,” he wrote in a statement published on the university’s website.
As he added in the next message, due to “revealed serious irregularities in the supervision of BUW’s library resources”, he immediately ordered the establishment of a commission to clarify the current situation at BUW.
The Rector also ordered an audit of the rules and procedures for lending collections.
He ordered the immediate strengthening of supervision over the BUW library collections and the urgent development of rules and procedures in the area of this supervision. He also immediately withdrew the decision, announced on January 31, 2020, to move the Reading Room of the 19th Century Collections to the General Reading Room, which “resulted in numerous negative consequences in terms of supervision over the BUW collections”.
The case was first reported by “Gazeta Stołeczna”.
– We received a report about the theft of eight books from the 19th century. It was supposed to take place on October 16. We handed the case over to the prosecutor’s office, said Sub-Inspector Robert Szumiata from the downtown police station to “Gazeta”.
No one has been arrested in this case.
Former director posts a statement
The situation was described from her perspective by the dismissed director of BUW. She wrote that in mid-October, employees of the BUW Collection Access Department discovered the theft of eight volumes of Russian publications from the 19th century.
“At his workstation, one of the readers left blank covers and dummies in place of the original publications from the Library’s collection. A thorough analysis of 19th century publications recently ordered to the BUW Reading Room allowed us to determine that there are more dummies that were returned to the BUW Magazine instead of the original objects. Today we determined that it is about 80 volumes,” wrote Anna Wołodko on the X website. She noted that inspection of this part of the collection is still ongoing.
She provided more details later in the statement. “As a result of our inspection, as well as information regarding a similar theft at the National Library of Latvia, we suspect that the thefts are made to order. All the stolen works are in Russian,” wrote Anna Wołodko. She added that this type of works appear in the offers of auction houses and antique shops operating on the Russian market.
“We treated the theft very seriously from the beginning. Right after discovering the loss of volumes, I informed the Vice-Rector of the University of Warsaw, to which BUW reports, about it by phone. The theft was reported to the District Police Headquarters, and we conducted an internal investigation at the Library, which included, among others, an inspection of the collection warehouse. 19th century and changing the rules for making collections available in the reading room,” she said.
She also noted that a detailed report had been prepared for the university authorities regarding the situation and the actions taken.
She worked at the University of Warsaw Library for 31 years
Anna Wołodko worked at the University of Warsaw Library for 31 years, and was the director for five years. In a statement, she commented on the manner in which she was dismissed. She emphasized that both it and the content of the statements published on the University of Warsaw website convinced her that she would have to fight in court for reinstatement and protection of her good name.
At the end of the statement, the dismissed director wrote that the loss of the collections was her most difficult professional experience, but she was convinced that all procedures for protection and information about the situation had been completed. She also thanked for the words of support she receives.
tvnwarszawa.pl, Gazeta Stołeczna
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