The National Library of Sweden co-organizer of international conference on insider theft

[Press release] On Wednesday, Sweden’s national librarian Gunilla Herdenberg was able to retrieve two additional books of the some sixty or so identified as stolen from the National Library of Sweden, “KB”, by a former employee.

Sweden's National Librarian Gunilla Herdenberg attendin the book ceremony in New York. Photo: David B. Smith.

Sweden's National Librarian Gunilla Herdenberg attendin the book ceremony in New York. Photo: David B. Smith.


The return of the books took place at a ceremony hosted by the United States Attorney’s Office of New York. KB has for worked intensively for a number of years to locate and undertake the safe return of stolen books back into the collections.

The two books returned on Wednesday were Pratica di fabricar scene, e machine ne'teatri by Nicolo Sabbattini and printed in 1638, and Oculus, hoc est: fundamentum opticum by Christoph Scheiner, published in 1619.

Nicolo Sabbattini’s book belonged most likely to the noble family Tessin and is considered to be the first comprehensive work focused solely on theatrical scenography. Tessin the Younger is believed to have had great use of the book as a reference tool in his work as architect for the construction of the palace in Stockholm. Christoph Scheiner’s work records experiments and observations of the eye. It was an important work at the time, contributing to the further understanding of how common problems in eyesight may be corrected by artificial lenses.

The problem of insider theft in libraries is global. To draw attention to the problem and propose measures for countering it, KB has co-organized an international conference set in London on June 26th. “The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril: Theft, Retrieval, Sale and Restitution of rare books, maps and manuscripts” is the header of the conference hosted by the British Library together with, among others, the International Association of Lawyers. One contributor is Howard N. Spiegler, (Herrick, Feinsteinen), a prominent American lawyer who has been involved in the safe recovery of a number of the Swedish books.

Link to the conference:

Additional information:

Regarding the return of stolen books: collections librarian Greger Bergvall +46.70 007 33 44

Regarding the London conference: senior legal advisor Jerker Rydén, also member of the conference organizing committee, +46.70 007 31 10

Director, Department of Physical Collections, Lars Ilshammar +46.70 007 33 69

Updated list of stolen books

The National Library of Sweden works continuously to locate and retrieve the irreplaceable book treasures stolen from our collections in particular during the years 1995-2004. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of our missing cultural heritage, please contact us. You will find the current list of missing items at this webpage: http://www.kb.se/english/about/news/Updated-list-of-stolen-books/

Contact person: Peter Axelsson, e-mail: firstname.lastname@kb.se

National Library