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Map History

Links relating to the theft of early books and maps

(the networks and practices of institutions and the trade, and the reporting of thefts)

Latest theft news   |  Smiley case news

The links listed below provide a context for understanding map thefts [though most of the information actually relates to books] and the response to them. If the organisations involved, with their 'guidelines' and codes of practice, are sometimes fragmented or overlapping, such an analysis can help to suggest where further co-ordination is needed. Local and regional organisations need at least to be linked together into global networks. Map theft is an international phenomenon and the response to it must, in future, be equally global.

Three specific points:-

  1. This page does not deal with details of physical library security or the exchange of information about suspects (both matters for the institutions' security officers). Nor does it cover cataloguing practice (necessary for providing descriptions of stolen items), though see 'Object ID'
  2. Most of the links in the Spreading the News section relate to books, manuscripts, art, antiques, antiquities - anything except maps. Nor is information available about the theft of colour plates from books, or early prints - the two directly comparable types of material. The intention is to highlight this gap
  3. The links are almost exclusively to English-language sites. Please send links in other languages, and any other useful additions

Editor: Tony Campbell  

Related pages:

[Page posted 3 May 2002 - regular amendments thereafter]

Libraries, Archives and Museums




  • Libdex: the Library Index (index to 17,800 Libraries, accessible via library name or country index, featuring "library homepages, web-based OPACs...")
  • List of National Libraries (this is automatically brought up via the old link from IFLA, so is presumably an official list)
  • Repositories of Primary Sources ("a listing of over 4900 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar" [May 2002]; accessible via State, Province, Country Index - University of Idaho Library)
  • World Directory of Map Collections, 4th Edition, compiled and edited by Olivier Loiseaux on behalf of the Section of Geography and Map Libraries, of the International Federation of Map Libraries (Munich: K G Saur Verlag, 2001). ISBN 3-598-21818-4. [IFLA Publication No. 92/93]. [Update, February 2012: Saur is now De Gruyter Saur; this title, described as '2012' can be found here.]




Codes of Conduct

Deaccessioning (cancel stamps)

Discussion Lists


  • [for the various Map lists see Discussion Lists - some of these include theft reports in their archives]
  • Archives & Archivists. See their homepage, with access to the Archives
  • ExLibris. (You must be a member to post messages and to get access to the Archives, which include theft announcements)
  • Museum Security Network Mailing list. See their homepage (must be a member to post messages but their Archives are available since 2003 - these include theft announcements)
CLOSED LISTS (i.e. restricted to a professional group)

  • Library Security Officer Electronic List. Send reports to Susan Allen, Head, Department of Special Collections, UCLA: sallen@library.ucla.edu
  • Society of American Archivists. Contact: sfox@archivists.org
  • UK security list. Contact: Tom.Moulton@bl.uk

Legal Matters

Library Stamps and security devices

Security Guidelines

Theft and Loss from UK Libraries: a National Survey (largely concerned with UK public libraries - by John Burrows and Diane Cooper; Police Research Group Crime Prevention Unit Series: Paper No. 37 (London: Home Office Police Department, 1992)
Library & Archival Security [Table of Contents since 15:1]
Security Management is a monthly journal, published by Asis in the US [there appears to be nothing on the site about map thefts]

Archives, libraries and museums see also Collections

Top of page

Book and Map Dealers





Codes of Practice

Discussion Lists

  • See Discussion Lists for details of the international Map Trade list and the UK map and printdealers' list
  • map dealers also have their own informal email chains, but these are neither comprehensive nor fully international

Top of page

Spreading the News

Procedures for Reporting Theft

Theft Reports

see also Theft News


(While the following could include maps, few do so. They are included here primarily to underline the need for a comprehensive, dedicated map theft register)

  • Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) ('This non- profit organization will study issues in art crime, and work as consultants on art protection or recovery issues brought to them by police, governments, museums, places of worship, and other public institutions')
  • Art Loss Register ("the world's largest private international database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectibles" - NB cookies must be enabled to access the site)
  • Find Stolen Art ("developed to assist Police Forces, across the United Kingdom, in the recovery and return of Stolen Antiques and to enable Auction Houses, Collectors and dealers to comply with the code of Due Diligence", run by British Reserve Insurance and Criterion Antiques and Fine Art Loss Adjusters - searching on 'Stolen and Recovered' produced just one, mis-described map [April 2002])
  • ILAB Stolen Books ('The database is open to all ILAB booksellers who may enter details of books {and maps} stolen {since 15 June 2010} from themselves or their customers. Individuals, librarians and other booksellers may approach their local ILAB bookseller if they wish to enter any details of books stolen or if they wish to check if a book is listed' - International League of Antiquarian Booksellers)
  • Missing and Stolen Books Blog (Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA))
  • < http://missingmaterials.org/ > MissingMaterials.org ('a blog of rare and unique books and materials stolen or missing from libraries and archives' - started February 2009 [closing at the end of 2012], involving OCLC Research, the RLG Partnership and the Security Committees of the RBMS and ABAA; for an explanation see < http://www.oclc.org/research/activities/missingmaterials/default.htm > Missing Materials Beta Procedure Project)
  • 'RBMS Security Committee' (see 'Listings of Missing and Stolen Library Materials', from the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College & Research Libraries - see also under 'Theft Reports' below)
  • Sheppard's Directories - Book Theft: Information ('a free service but it is part of the Booksearch subscription')
  • 'Stolen Books & Manuscripts: "A Search for the World's Most Wanted Art" ' (a small selection of international links, from Jonathan Sazonoff)
  • Works of Art (Interpol - a search on 'map' produced three entries [April 2002])
  • Theft Reports (annual theft reports since 1987, from the ACRL/RBMS Security Committee - taken from the "public media and on open listservs, such as Exlibris". Notices to Alvan Bregman: abregman@uiuc.edu)
  • WorldCat. Missing Materials (searchable databases)
see also under Discussion Lists, for Libraries and Archives and Dealers

Lists of Links

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