Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Case Surrounding $5 Million Rare Books Theft Remains Open

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is a fixture in the state of Pennsylvania. It is here that a resident of the state may come to enjoy a vast number of amenities for free, amenities including: tutoring services, an incredibly impressive amount of books and films, language-learning services, and so much more. It is also here, however, that a major theft of hundreds of rare items took place about a year ago. 


carnegie library

Image Via Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh 


The Oliver Room at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has been closed since April 3, 2017 when it was discovered that 314 various manuscripts, texts, letters, and atlases were stolen from the collection. Michael Vinson, a rare book dealer, appraises the theft at totaling roughly 5-million-dollars, citing other sales of various copies and similar titles. Many of the stolen items were artifacts that proved to be a true testament to human culture, civilization, and innovation. The staff at the Carnegie Library are saddened by this offensive action against humanity since this specific collection boasts of numerous items from across time and space: pieces of Pennsylvania history, 16th century+ artifacts, and other relics from bygone eras.


oliver room

Image Via Pittsburgh Magazine 


Vinson, Allegheny County Police, and other staff-members believe the thief or thieves to have been employed by library because of the intense security protocol surrounding the room. It is unlikely that any non-employee would know about the security measures in place, let alone be able to get past them and into the room. The room isn’t even open to the general public; access is granted to those who have booked appointments in advance. Suzanne Thinnes, a spokesperson for the library, explains that the person who had been in charge of the collection is no longer employed with Carnegie, and I would assume that this is due to the fact that even if this person isn’t responsible for the theft itself, it happened under their watch. 


Some of the missing items include: several 16th, 17th, and 18th century editions of The Bible, a 1609 edition of The Fairie Queen by Edmund Spenser, a 1907 edition of The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis, an 1861 edition of Silas Marner by George Eliot, a 1687 edition of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton, and so many more. It truly is a tragedy to see such testaments to humankind uprooted from their home at The Carnegie Library- not only is this a crime against the establishment, but it’s also a crime against human civilization. It is presumed that the artifacts are being stored somewhere until the heat surrounding the case cools down. 




Feature Image Via Smithsonian