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This article was published on www.ILAB.org, it is presented here by permission of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

The ILAB Stolen Book Database – A Report at the IFLA Conference

The ILAB Stolen Book Database – A Report at the IFLA Conference

By Gonzalo Fernández Pontes (ILAB Security Chair)


A year ago Gonzalo Fernández Pontes was elected a member of the ILAB Committee. As Security Chair he is responsible for the ILAB Stolen Book Database, and he coordinates all efforts of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers to prevent thefts and to catch book thieves, both at national and international level. At the IFLA Conference in The Hague he gave a talk about this important work of the League.

I was chosen as security chair by Tom Congalton just after my election to the Committee at the ILAB Congress in Lucerne, in September 2012. My “baptism of  fire” came up after one month and a half at the IFLA international security conference held at The Hague, the Netherlands.

The goal of my presentation was to start with a formal introduction to the academic world of ILAB as an international organization, and how to establish a kind of synergy on security issues between ILAB and the libraries.

During the presentation, the issue arose that it is necessary for public institutions to inform about book thefts and to consider thefts as facts instead of hiding them from the public. This was mentioned by several speakers before and after my presentation. It remained clear that the purpose for most book thieves is to make money swiftly. To this end, contacting an auction house or a dealer is the main strategy for driving the books, maps or documents to the market.

I explained how the ILAB Stolen Book Database and the ILAB email alert systems works. It permits any ILAB affiliated bookseller to fill in the template with the basic data of the stolen material and to send this information to the ILAB web editor who then sends out the security message. This simple but effective tool allows all ILAB dealers worldwide to immediately receive files about any stolen material.

The ILAB Stolen Book Database – A Report at the IFLA Conference

I briefly made an introduction to the ILAB by-laws and to the Code of Ethics of the League, explaining that it is the umbrella of 22 national associations with all their members bound to a common code of practice. I insisted that confidence is an asset that is in the core of the relationships between dealers and customers, either private or institutional. ILAB was, is and will be a reliable organization of the international antiquarian book trade. I thanked Theo Vermeulen for his invitation  and accepted on behalf of ILAB to attend future IFLA meetings.

I was happy to attend this international meeting that allowed me not only to meet people but to get in touch with something that is so important for our trade in these days: to buy rare books, manuscripts, maps and prints with security, to sell them with confidence, and, as a rare book dealer, to be reliable and practice fair play.

Download the PDF file to read Gonzalo Fernández Pontes presentation at the IFLA international security conference!

Published 08 Oct 2013

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