I learned a new word today: biblioclast, or destroyer of books. Found it on the frontispiece of The Enemies of Books by William Blades.
As you can see from its Table of Contents — Fire, Water, Gas and Heat, Dust and Neglect, Ignorance, The Bookworm, Other Vermin, Bookbinders, Collectors & Servants and Children — the author, William Blades, has spotted elemental, entomological and occupational enemies, even as far back as 1880.
John Bagford, “shoemaker and biblioclast,” appears in the chapter about Collectors. He apparently “went about the country, from library to library, tearing away title pages from rare books of all sizes,” intent on creating a key to the history of printing, but detaching key bibliographic information from parent works. You can see glimpses of The Bagford Fragments on the British Library’s website.
He has a touching quote from the conclusion, “A Reverence for Old Books,” beginning: “It is a great pity that there should be so many distinct enemies at work for the destruction of literature, and that they should so often be allowed to work out their sad end. Looked at rightly, the possession of any old book is a sacred trust, which a conscientious owner or guardian would as soon think of ignoring as a parent would of neglecting his child….”