Theft and loss of materials held in libraries and archives worldwide is a concern not only for owning institutions, but also for the international antiquarian book trade and global law enforcement. Two years ago, OCLC Research was tapped by members of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (of ALA/ACRL) to develop a way to expose these stolen or “missing” materials in a centralized, highly-visible way, in order to help identify stolen materials, recover missing items and deter future crimes.
Together with the RLG Partnership, the RBMS Security Committee and the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, OCLC Research developed MissingMaterials.org, which (combined with the list functions available in WorldCat.org) creates a free mechanism for sharing reliable information about missing rare books and other materials at the network level. In order for this solution to work, however, it is of vital importance that the community use it. Therefore, I invite you, the community, to go forward, create lists, and add to MissingMaterials.org. It’s easy, it’s free. If you hadn’t been ripped off, it would even be fun.
A few weeks ago, Jen and I did a webinar that included some leading voices from the rare books and archives community, particularly those who have been committed to creating transparency around theft. Webinar presenters included: Katherine Kyes Leab (American Book Prices Current); Richard Oram (Associate Dir., Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin); Maria Holden, Prudence Backman, and Britanny Turner (New York State Archives).
If you watch the webinar, you will see a demonstration of how to create a list and add it to MissingMaterials.org. Or, you can go here to read a short explanation of how to do it (only 165 words!). Did I mention it was free? Did I mention it was easy?
More information about the project is available here. Please contact Jennifer Schaffner or me if you are interested in more information, or if you would like some handholding.
Jennifer Schaffner was a Program Officer with the OCLC Research Library Partnership. She worked with the rare books, manuscripts and archives communities. She worked with OCLC Research from 2007 to 2015.