Gary Menges 59 figures prominently in The Island of Lost Maps (2000 Random House), an examination of a modern-day map thief interwoven with a history of cartography. The University of Washingtons Allen Library, where Menges is in charge of preservation, was one of many research libraries visited by Gilbert Bland, who quietly cut maps from rare books with a razor blade. Menges story is of a rare 1675 map book he secured from a donor and had restored. In a strange twist of fate, the first person to handle the book was Bland, who sliced out four maps.
Author Miles Harvey describes Menges as a very trim, very tidy version of Santa Claus, complete with a twinkle in the eye and a disarmingly robust laugh.
Harvey would never have heard of Menges if not for Russell D. Cole Library, which opened when Menges was a Cornell student in 1957. Because of a new head librarian with a new vision for the library, as well as a work-study job in the library, Menges developed a deep interest in library work. Thats one of the reasons I became a librarian, Menges says.