A crime for the (library) books

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Can any single object create more more anxiety for librarians than the simple X-Acto knife? At the inaugural Books@Baker event, Michael Blanding, author of The Map Thief and Baker Library staff member, discussed the damage wrought by a rare map dealer and his X-Acto knife.

Between 1998 and 2005, E. Forbes Smiley III pilfered nearly 100 maps from collections at the Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, British Library, Newberry Library, Harvard and Yale, netting him over $3 million.

Smiley’s crime spree began to unravel in 2005, when a canny librarian at Yale spotted an X-Acto knife on the floor near Smiley. He ultimately admitted to the thefts and served time in prison for theft of cultural heritage.