Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Update on BPL's Stolen Maps

The Boston Globe's Jenna Russell has a story today providing some new details about the number of maps which still remain missing from the Boston Public Library, even as the 31 maps stolen by E. Forbes Smiley have been returned safely to the library's collections. Russell reports that another 34 maps have been discovered missing but have not been linked to Smiley's thefts.

Outgoing BPL pres Bernie Margolis told the paper that Smiley "paid the library $7,000 in restitution for another map he stole that cannot be found," and that one additional map which Smiley lifted has not yet been recovered.

A post-Smiley inventory revealed 36 additional missing maps, two of which have been returned ("by collectors in Boston and Maryland"). "The Boston library has spent about $200,000 on improved security and surveillance systems to prevent future thefts, Margolis said. All visitors to the rare-books room now sign in and out." Well that's a first step, I guess.

At Harvard, all but three of the twelve maps found to be missing from the collections have now returned safely. "Maps still missing from the university include a map of New England, published in a book by English travel writer Samuel Purchas in 1625, that was one of the first to show Cape Cod, and a 1612 map by Samuel de Champlain that was the first to show a chain of Great Lakes, according to Harvard."

Margolis said of the lessons learned by the thefts: "We always felt we could be open and people would not take advantage. We realize now we need to have procedures to keep honest people honest, and to keep dishonest people honest as well."

Good luck with that. It may be well nigh impossible to stop the most determined thieves, but we all must do what we can to make sure that they are either frustrated in their attempts, or - at the very least - are caught and punished to the most severe extent possible.

No comments: