Stampede in search for greenbacks among the hardbacks

Click to follow
The Independent Online
FORT WORTH - Texans stormed the Fort Worth public library, tearing pages from books and throwing volumes on the floor, after a disc jockey hoping to encourage reading said he had hidden money between the pages.

People were 'climbing the shelves, stepping on each other and elbowing people in the face' to get at the books on Tuesday, according to Marsha Anderson, a library spokeswoman. About 4,000 fiction, reference, philosophy, religion and social science books were strewn around. When it was over, the library was a shambles, with several thousand dollars' worth of damage. No one was hurt.

Listeners of the disc jockey A W Pantoja told library officials that the country-music station KYNG-FM had hidden up to dollars 10,000 ( pounds 7,000) in the books. But the programme director, Dan Pearman, said Pantoja had offered only dollars 100. 'He thought putting a few dollars here and there might motivate people to go to the library,' he said.

The station, in Dallas, said it would pay for the damage. 'It was never my intent to destroy a library,' said Pantoja, who did not ask the library for permission. 'The last thing in the world I would want is to destroy a library.'

Mr Pearman said: 'It was kind of a last-minute inspiration, and typically when he does that kind of stuff, 30 or 40 people show up.' About 500 people were in the first wave to hit the library.

Librarians thought it was a joke, then realised they had a problem as people pushed and shoved frantically through the library.

'I made an announcement that the contest was over,' Ms Anderson said. 'That worked real well. Three hundred people kind of vaporised.'

The city is looking into possible criminal charges and is to complain to the Federal Communications Commission.