Bibliomania Day: Commemorating the great grand heist of 23,600 books
While bibliophilia means love of books, bibliomania is when that love becomes madness and puts you behind bars! March 20 is observed every year as Bibliomania Day in the US, UK, and Canada. This day commemorates the grand heist of a whopping 23,600 books and sheds light on this lesser-known mental health disorder. Here's everything you should know about it.
What is bibliomania?
Bibliomania is defined as a compulsive disorder of stealing or hoarding books to the point where one does it at the cost of their health and social reputation. It is not a recognized mental health condition but some people have been found to have this rare issue. Not involving book collectors, this disorder identifies those who have nothing to do with books.
This day marks the grand heist by Stephen Blumberg
Bibliomania came into the limelight during the 1950s when Stephen Blumberg, who was also popularly known as 'Book Bandit,' hoarded 23,600 books! He stole them from about 327 libraries and museums across 45 destinations in the world including two each in Canada and Columbia. Astonishingly, the worth of these stolen books was estimated to be $5.3 million! He was finally caught in 1990.
What are the symptoms of bibliomania?
Symptoms of bibliomania include habits of acquiring, stealing or hoarding a large number of books without having an interest in reading them. Some people with this disorder may even get seduced by books and can be easily aroused when around them. They may collect several copies of the same book and experience anxiety/depression regarding their collection. This way, their relationships go for a toss.
How can one treat this mental disorder?
Patients with this condition aren't always aware of their state, which is why it is important to treat them and handle their cases delicately. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) via psychotherapy can come to their rescue as a psychotherapist can use their tools and skills to make them aware of the disorder and help them cope with it. A psychiatrist may also prescribe certain medications.
Other bibliomania cases that shook the world
Besides Stephen Blumberg's case, many cases from the past were also recorded, depicting how bibliomania was present way before his massive heist. Sir Thomas Phillips(1792 - 1872) suffered from severe bibliomania as he hoarded 1,60,000 books and manuscripts. In the 19th century, Rev. W.F. Whitcher, who was a pastor, stole books and called them "rare finds" from local bookstores.