I just returned from two library conferences. Of course, I took along some books to read on the plane. The first was Possession, a book I have never been able to get enough of. The second was a remainder table purchase. It looked interesting. It cost four bucks. I said, “why not?” and bought it.

My initial intent had been to post my thoughts about The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime on my personal blog, but it had so much to do with librarianship, that it seems more relevant to post it here.

It was inspired by the exploits of one Gilbert Bland who made a good chunk of change razoring out rare maps from special libraries and then selling them. Bland, who is aptly named, doesn’t appear to have left the biggest mark on the world, so Harvey expounds on the history of maps, specific anecdotes, tales of map making, the interesting world of map trading, and so on.

What interests me specifically are the bits about the library world. The special librarians take a fair amount of flak for not wanting to divulge their records to the police. I can see how that frustrated the authorities, but on the other hand, if librarians have a problem with the PATRIOT ACT, it should come as no surprise that they’re going to cavil at opening up their patron information to the cops. Also, if the authorities weren’t treating the thefts as serious matters, is it really that big a shock that libraries would be reluctant to press charges?

Still, a very interesting read.


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