A staff member at the National Library of Ireland has been arrested following a raid on his home in which detectives uncovered what they described as an "Aladdin's Cave" of historical books and manuscripts.
It follows an investigation that had been ongoing for at least 12 months after staff at the Dublin library noticed material disappearing.
Members of the arts and antiquities unit of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation raided the 35-year-old man’s Dublin home at about 6.30am yesterday.
Approximately 250 books, pamphlets and historical documents – valued at about €100,000 – were removed.
Individual items were being catalogued yesterday.
The library had been “losing books and other material over a period of time”, a Garda source said.
While investigators believe the material was taken for personal gain, it is unclear exactly what the staff member had planned to do with it.
He had worked at the Kildare Street library for many years. Gardaí are not seeking anyone else in relation to the matter.
In a statement last night, the investigators said the material found "consisted of a large number of books and pamphlets some of which are of historical value".
No official estimate of financial value was released although it is understood to be in the region of €100,000.
Detectives had been making inquiries in the second hand and antique book market as part of their investigations, although it is unclear whether the suspect had sold or intended to sell any material.
The museum declined to comment last night. A spokeswoman said: “The matter is the subject of a Garda investigation”.
The suspect was being detained at Lucan Garda station under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
An established second hand book dealer, who requested anonymity, said such material did sometimes appear on the market but there was not much demand.
Some material at auction has been disputed in the past while in the UK, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association maintains a database of stolen material that can be accessed by dealers to reduce the potential for illegal sales.