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 three books on the subject.

The first, The Book Thief: The True Crimes of Daniel Spiegelman, highlighted the federal judicial recognition of books as cultural objects whose value cannot be adequately captured by market price. His second book is Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Ended it. Articles about it appeared in publications including the New York TimesLos Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education and the Times Literary Supplement. His third book is Disappearing Ink: The Insider, the FBI, and the Looting of the Kenyon College Library.

Professor McDade’s articles have been published in academic journals in disciplines ranging from law to history to rare books. Still, most of his articles, like his books, are aimed at a more general audience. An article he wrote for the Oxford University Press blog called “The Difficulty of Insider Book Theft” was featured on The Atlantic’s The Week’s Best Pop Culture Writing and The New Yorker’s Page-Turner. He lectures extensively on the subject of rare book crime, and is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America.

For the 2016-17 school year he was the interim Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois.


JD Case Western Reserve University
MSLIS University of Illinois

Areas of Expertise

Rare Book Theft


Legal Research

Selected Publications

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