A thief who steals rare books and manuscripts is a specter haunting libraries. Those who steal rare material from libraries commit a different kind of larceny than their bank-robbing counterparts: The items they take have both monetary and cultural value. While institutions that painstakingly assemble rare books can purchase insurance to protect their collections, it's unlikely that they can just buy another version of a stolen document. Even if similar items exist, they're difficult to procure, and if the thief is caught, there's no guarantee investigators will find the original item. Of course, focusing on the possibility of theft from rare collections ignores the basic fact of libraries: They're made for the public to use them. It takes some forethought and a practiced awareness on both sides of the librarian-researcher interaction. Until digital alternatives are available everywhere, a librarian's often enthusiastic proclivity for information sharing will have to be tempered with humdrum security concerns.
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