Friday, July 27, 2007

On James Gilreath

I had one of those strange moments of convergence last night when I read Travis' Upward Departure post on James Gilreath, a former LOC librarian who pled guilty to stealing items from the Library after getting caught trying to sell them to a Boston dealer back in the mid-90s. It's not a case I know much about, probably because the guy's guilty plea got him out of any significant punishment - he spent a year in "home confinement" and is currently paying off a $20,000 fine in $50 monthly installments, as Travis notes.

The reason Travis' mention of Gilreath sort of threw me for a loop was that I'd only just opened a newly-arrived box of books from Colophon, one of which was The Judgment of Experts: Essays and Documents about the Investigation of the Forging of The Oath of a Freeman (1991), a collection relating to the infamous Mark Hofmann forgery of the earliest American printed document. The editor? None other than James Gilreath, back when he was working for (and presumably stealing from) the Library of Congress.

Just a hint of irony, having the editor of a book about an attempted literary crime turn out to be engaging in one of his own.

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