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Stealing or Damaging Library Books is an offence under Section 525 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You stole, removed, secreted or damaged with intent to steal any book, print, manuscript or other article, or part thereof
  2. The item was kept for reference, exhibition, art, science or literature, and
  3. It was kept in a public library, university, college or government building

A ‘public library’ includes any collection of books in a school of arts, mechanics institute, or any building or room occupied or habitually used by members of any association or residents of any area as a reading room or library.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Duress
  2. Necessity, and
  3. Claim of right, which means you genuinely believed you were legally entitled to the property