Travis McDade

Curator of Law Rare Books
Associate Professor of Library Service


Professor McDade is the country’s foremost expert on crimes against rare books, maps, documents, and other printed cultural heritage resources. He is the author of four books on the subject. Articles about and reviews of his work have appeared in the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesChronicle of Higher Education, and the Times Literary Supplement, and he has been quoted in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and the Paris Review, amongst other places.

Professor McDade has published articles in academic journals in disciplines ranging from law to history to rare books. But most of his articles, like his books, are aimed at a more general audience. These articles have been featured in The Atlantic’s The Week’s Best Pop Culture Writing, The New Yorker’s Page-Turner, and Arts & Letters Daily.

He lectures extensively on the subject of book theft. In 2013, he gave the Rare Books Public Lecture at the University of Melbourne and in 2019 the keynote to the Oxford Conference for the Book. For the 2016-17 school year he was the interim Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois. He is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America.


JD Case Western Reserve University
MSLIS University of Illinois

Areas of Expertise

Rare Book Theft


Legal Research
Writing About the Law for a Lay Audience

Selected Publications

The Book Thief: The True Crimes of Daniel Spiegelman (Prager 2006)

Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It (Oxford University Press 2013)

Disappearing Ink: The Insider, the FBI, and the Looting of the Kenyon College Library (Diversion Books 2015)

Torn from Their Bindings: The Story of Art, Science, and the Pillaging of American University Libraries (University Press of Kansas 2018)