Books that just *never* seemed to be returned....
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In our library we can pretty much guarantee which books will have a less than natural chance of being returned. This makes reordering and even checking them out to someone almost painful! We've even have a little joking bets about how long reordered items will last until someone keeps them. Here's a list of some of books:
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
Zane books are extraordinarily difficult to keep
Pretty much anything dealing with Wicca
We probably have a lot more but these are just the most common. Not to generalize or be negative about the people who check these things out but this is just a reality at our library. What about everyone else? What books never seem to stick around your library?
Yup-that's why I stopped letting people borrow my books on Wicca-the ones I let out just never seem to want to return...
At our library (academic library), our education books and juvenille books always seem to disappear (future teachers just don't want to let go of their favorites), as do all of our study guides. I amazed our periodicals seem to actually stick around long enough to be bound.
Our biggest problem, though, is patron censoring. Books on the history of homosexuality, evolution, and any juvenille book with a hint of sex seem to disapear, never to be seen again.
Definitely A Child Called It and its sequels. We purchase six copies of that book each year to replenish the ones that disappear!
Our graphic novels tend to fall in that category too. I work in a school library, so graphic novels are by far our most popular books, but we do tend to have a lot of loss in that area. And then the specific volumes are out of print, so we can't replace them. The students are so upset when they are reading a story and volume 5 is missing.
#2: If a book disappears without ever being checked out, how do you notice? (And how soon?)
I'm not a librarian, and I have no idea how libraries keep track of their books :)
Our library has put a cash deposit (cost of book) on items that usually get checked out and never returned.
* Testing books (GED, SAT, ACT, ASVAB, Civil Service, etc...)
* Contractors books
* Child called it
Basically anything that non-library users come in for specifically, and have no interest in coming back to the library to return.
Zane books for sure! We have pretty much stopped re-ordering them. Our records showed that we had ordered approximately 30+ copies of each Zane book over the past few years and we now have fewer than 10 TOTAL to show for it, so our patrons will just have to get their "Zane fix" from the bookstores.
ASVAB and GED books rarely stay on the shelves, but we do continue to re-order those.
Wicca books tend to disappear over time, but not as often as they have in the past, thankfully.
We have endeavored to find books that have been checked out and not returned (i.e. 3 month period) and bill the patrons for replacement costs. Some people who come in have a big surprise when they try to check out books or use the computers...and we explain that if they STILL have the books in their possession, all they need to do is return the books and pay the late fees----otherwise, they pay for the cost of each book plus processing fees. We get a LOT of books returned that way, too! ; )
12GreenieGirl First Message
In our town library we lose GED books all the time. Also, the staff has learned that 'get-yourself-organized' books and videos earn an excessively high number of overdue notices.
13clarinetgrl412 First Message
We keep a lot of the test prep books on reserve for that very reason of never getting them back
Why not make the deposit to be the cost of the book and the cost of processing? If the deposit is just the cost of the book, they may be tempted to use the library as a book store, but if the deposit is more than the cost of the book, that may spur return of the book.
Why do these books disappear? Is it because people don't think they should be available? Or is it because they love the book so much? If it's the later, why don't they just go to a bookstore? I don't get it. And why on earth would anyone want to keep a GED book?
(Hope it's okay for a non-librarian to ask a question here)
At the same time these patrons pick up the (GED) book, they ask about how to get a library card. The library isn't a place they go regularly and a trip to return the book would be out of the way. They may be skeptical about the consequences of not returning an item--reports to the credit bureau don't have an immediate impact.
I've noticed a variety of reasons our most lost get that way. First-since we are an academic library, our patrons move alot-every year, then again every summer. Lots of books get lost in the move. Then, of course, there's the idea that they "pay so much in tuition, the books should be theirs." I'm sure there's a similar mindset among public librarians...the whole idea that "My taxes pay for this place", etc. Plus, it's pretty well known that our security system isn't the best in the world (We're about to move to RFID) and it's REALLY easy to get by most library security systems (ever wonder why so many of your books come back without a detuning card in them?). So they take them and keep them because they can.
But we're also available to the public and the surrounding neighborhood is poor. Therefore, many of our lost books are taken by people who just can't afford books.
Of course, I've never done a survey of patrons to find out WHY they've taken the books. But I can give a rough estimate based on what gets stolen from us-
About 50%-because they don't want to pay for a book-it's either too tempting to just take the book or they tell themselves that, one way or another, they really have paid for that book
About 35%-because they don't think anyone else should be allowed to read the book
The rest (15%)-honest mistakes, lost in moves, really thought they returned it, really returned it and it's actually our mistake, etc. (I have honestly made this mistake back in the 4th grade, so it wouldn't suprise me)
really thought they returned it, really returned it and it's actually our mistake
A while ago I did something like that: I put a borrowed comic book (a Mafalda volume, I remember that) back on the shelf (my local library has a very odd comic book shelf) after I had borrowed it because I has read through it before leaving the library, and I had forgotten i had just borrowed it.
19The_Kat_Cache First Message
I once received a notice that a book I'd checked out was overdue, when I was certain I had returned it. I went to the library, found it on the shelf, took it to the circulation desk and informed them of their mistake. (How does a book get reshelved without being checked back in anyway?)
>19 The_Kat_Cache:, if there's a large stack of books to be checked in, or several stacks of books for different purposes, there can be mix-ups every so often. Also, at least with our computer program, every so often there can be a hick-up. Neither happens often, but sometimes it's the case...
A lot of times flustered mothers of small children will check books out, go in the back and read them, and set them down without thinking about it. Sometimes we catch it, sometimes we just find a mess and clean it up...
We've also had problems with older, semi-valuable books being checked out and then sold on ebay or wherever. Usually the patron comes in a few days after the check-out, with money in hand, saying they lost the book. Even though we know, there's nothing we can do about it.
Sometimes the CD collection in public libraries is dismissed because "there's never anything good." That's a problem area too. Popular music, especially rock, disappears so quickly we have stopped purchasing it. It's too risky. Using public funds that way isn't a good investment.
#20 That tends to happen here too with mothers reading checked out library books before story time begins. That is why when we pick up books severely out of place (NF in F or 973 in 334) or placed on tables we take them up the circulation desk and check them in...just in case. Still, accidents do happen and things do slip by especially when things get very busy and there are books all over the place.
#15 Personally I would agree with notelinks...items that tend not to be returned are probably because the people who check them out do not frequent the library and the visit was for a specific item. They then either just don't feel the need to return in or they forget, etc. Still, the fact that Zane books rarely return agitates me.
At my library, we seem to get a lot of DVDs that are checked out, but never returned. Whenever we get a new one in, the circ staff races to watch it, because we don't know how long it'll stick around.
We also have the little itty-bitty BOB books for early readers. Those things are a bit of a pain, because they're so small. Often, the children read it in the car and it falls underneath the seats... or that's what I've noticed.
As far as patrons and fines, a lot don't realize that they won't have to pay for it if they just bring it back. They think they'll have to pay the price to replace it as well as the overdue fine if they come back to the library. Sometimes, I feel like waiving the fines and saying "Just bring it back! PLEASE!" :)
I'm not a librarian but I am a frequent library patron. When I was looking for witchcraft/paranormal/wiccan books I could never find them on the shelves. The librarian told me they frequently disappear or are not returned.
Also, as mentioned earlier, graphic novels contstantly seem to come up missing. I've just started reading this genre and do a lot of online requesting through my library system. Inevitably while I'm working through a series at least one or more volumes are missing. Fortunately for me I have the option of buying them used through amazon than having to wait to see if the library will re-stock the book.
Of course, this practice is proving to be a bit hard on the wallet :(
24: You could also check whether book-trading sites have the relevant volumes...
Besides the items already metioned, we have trouble keeping books about ghosts and hauntings in our state and local area on the shelves.
One incident came to mind when I read about the "get organized" books that do not get returned. I had a patron who told me a bit sheepishly that she needed to renew a book that was quite overdue. I had to laugh when I saw the title had to do with "How to Stop Procrastinating Now!"
Oh my god! Yes, we experience the same titles missing. . . going over all of these submissions I recognize the pattern.
I work in a research library where we don't even lend material. However, books on how to write resumes and cover letters constantly disappear from the shelves. We now keep some of them behind the desk and take ID before we hand them over to patrons.
When I worked in public libraries I found that Mein Kampf also went missing on a regular basis.
When I worked in a public library, we stopped acquiring any children's books based on TV characters (Dora, Blue, etc.) because they never ever came back. Strangely, the videos would usually come back.
When I worked in a bookstore, we kept Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines books behind the counter; and I know a bookstore that keeps virtually all books by Beat authors within sight of the always-staffed cash register.
And I'm told that the Bible is the most stolen book of all time, though I don't know how this can be ascertained.
go ask alice .... everytime. actually, they're not even checked out, but stolen, so it's not like we can track them down. it's gotten so bad that we now keep our copies behind the circ desk.
Go Ask Alice, I forgot about that one. I found it an engrossing memoir. I don't know about that book, but I had read that her later "so-called diaries" were actually fictional. A great disappointment that didn't make that national news along the lines of Frey's , "A Million Little Pieces." I felt more betrayed by this author and publisher than by Frey. Sorry, a bit off topic.
>25 infiniteletters: I do have a lengthly list of manga I'd like on bookmooch, although I haven't tried any of the other swapping sites. It doesn't seem as though bookmooching people like to give up their manga very often.
Yes to all of the above-listed disappearing books. Also, anything to do with Dungeons and Dragons. We don't usually buy these, but occasionally one is donated. We know that as soon as it goes on the shelf, we will never see it again.
Can someone explain why A Child Called It is oft-stolen? I just don't get it.
It has been checked out, but not returned. That differs from an item that may have been stolen. Stolen items may have been seen by staff, used, or inventoried and then disappear, no record of checkout since previous return.
A Child Called It must be one of the most assigned books that's requested by high school students where I work. I can only speculate why that is. One possibility--the subtitle--person overcoming an abusive childhood, the 'victor'.
We've discussed it at our library and we believe that perhaps A Child Called It is not returned perhaps because it appeals to such a wide audience. I know people who *rarely* read and who have read this (or at least attempted to). It is also very popularly suggested by people to friends, coworkers, etc. So we basically believe because it is such a talked about/recommended book. But of course, each place is different.
Years ago, in my former library branch, the most often stolen/not returned book was Dianetics. I once got 10 paperbacks and within a month, all were gone. The Bible and biographies of African Americans are also high loss items.
40iwant_todance First Message
I work in a branch of a pretty big city library, so we deal with a lot of books. There's this one book, Dutch by Teri Woods, that our system has, like, fifteen to twenty copies of. ALL of them are gone. Either they're missing from the shelf, or someone checked them out and never returned them. There's not a single copy left in any of our 13 branches. XD
Like a lot of you have said, Go Ask Alice, Wicca books and books about ghosts disappear a lot. I think that the book I've come across that's had the most number of stolen copies is The Outsiders.
My library does stock Rap and Hip-Hop CDs, and I don't know why because none of them get many circs. We're basically buying them for rude patrons to keep. I used to have the job of grabbing all the items that had been placed on hold, and if a Rap CD had been on the shelf more than 3 days, I never found it.
I just finished my work placement in a high scholl libray. Most commonly re-ordered books are dictionaries and Gossip-Girl books.
It's funny that people steal the books on wicca. Isn't there a well-known wiccan saying about cause and effect, that whatever you do to others comes back upon you threefold? Maybe you librarians should find a way to put that on the flyleaf... ;-)
When I was working in a HS library, we realized that certain of the more racy books (can't think of an example, sorry) were being "lost" and then some self-help type books.
Our decision was to quit buying Permabound and Econo-Clad and just get six regular paperbacks of such books because frankly, maybe the "lost" book is something that will help the kid through a crisis and he/she is too embarrassed/poor to get it at a bookstore.
A lost book would bother me; a sorta-kinda stolen book means it mattered.
With adults failing to return, I don't know what to say, but I wanted to address the teenager thing.
>43 chamekke: I'd be willing to bet that many of the people stealing the books on Wicca aren't Wiccan. They're either people who are seeking a new religion or they're people who don't think anyone should be allowed to read the books. But even if they are, ethics and religious beliefs don't seem to keep the Bible from being stolen, and "Thou shalt not steal" is one of the Big Ten.
I think the reason a lot of books on Wicca are stolen are that there are a lot of teenagers who want to give it a try, but know or think their parents will be disapproving, would never let them -buy- the books, etc. Just a guess, but a lot of my friends in high school explored it and were always so terribly secret about it, at least from their parents. (That might have been part of the appeal to them, haha).
There is also the effect of what I call "that damn movie" AKA The Craft. The girls in the movie just steal whatever they need. A New Age bookstore put a sign up after that damn movie came out reminding customers of the three-fold law. They finally went out of business. As a Wiccan myself, I don't consider these people who steal as Wiccan. It causes harm to others (what if someone really needs that self-help book), to libraries (spending your hard-fought-for book budget on things you've already purchased once) and to businesses.
LOL-good description of the movie. Granted, I've started buying all the cheap copies of Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner I can find in Half Priced Books because my loan copy always takes so long to come home-but that's not the same thing as flat-out stealing the book. Unfortunatly, I do think alot of it has to do with the fact that many of those books are written for teenagers who are not exactly mature or respectful of other's property-not defending the action, but it might explain it.
Def "A Child Called It". I buy 6 or 8 coopies at the bginning of the year and only put one out at a time.
Also, our loss rate for urban fiction is around 80%.
Baby name books also disappear all the time.
50Library_April First Message
Dracula and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I cannot guess why but at least they are good books!
I have worked in several libraries, all of which were different sized public libraries in both urban and rural settings, and the most "walked off the shelf books" were the wicca books or witchcraft-related books (including fiction titles). Most of the wicca books were never checked out, so naturally it was very hard to track down who might have them. My co-workers often laugh that the books must be under a "disappearing spell!"
GED books are another type of book that is hard to keep on the shelves. It seems that they only get checked out a couple of times, then they are lost forever.
Some of the libraries I have worked at had problems with their Consumer Reports magazines. Patrons would check them out and never bring them back, or would just walk out of the library with them. It got to the point that some of the libraries actually kept them behind the counter, and patrons had to request an issue to look at in-library only.
in regards to the wiccan books, i wonder if it's for a similar reason that tarot cards are often stolen. there is a belief about tarot cards that if you pay money for them, it taints them and they won't give proper readings. i've never actually subscribed to that viewpoint believing that the taint of a stolen item is worse...
I was going to ask why it's always A Child Called It, but sounds like everyone's got that covered. Our acquisitions person said that she'd ordered her last copy a few months ago, and now that's gone, so we're high and dry.
GED books, check. Also nursing and postal exam books. We now just sell GED, SAT, and ASVAB books because we can't keep them on the shelves.
And Zane. This is a small library, so a couple of years ago, we only had 8 Zane books in the system. I called every patron who had a Zane book out, because they had all aged to "lost" in the system, and every phone number was disconnected. We now only have one in circulation; everything else is gone except her latest (give it a few months . . . ) Acquisitions has also said that Dear G-Spot is the last thing she's ordering, that she's tired of throwing money away.
Urban / street fiction is a loss. Q-Boro books. Anna J. Just re-ordered Baby Momma Drama, for a few that come to mind.
Eric Jerome Dickey is another one we can't keep.
As others have said, witchcraft, wicca, magic, horoscopes, astrologic signs, etc, etc are all sure to go.
Someone mentioned Consumer Reports: We have to keep those behind the desk and sign them out.
For a long time, the Left Behind series books and Nicholas Sparks books were a problem, but that seems to have slowed down. Anne Rice also isn't the problem she used to be. I think she's vampire old news, what with all these new vampire series coming out.
54beitibombi First Message
I work in a public library and we are regularly replacing the true crime books. I just hope the community isn't using them as self help manuals.
>53 elvisettey: The only things I would spend money on replacing would be things that are necessary for school assignments, and for adults, things like Consumer reports, GED, etc. My attitude towards anything such as witchcraft, astrology, Zane, etc., that is read or consulted for pleasure, that keeps disappearing would be "it's a waste of the taxpayers' money to replace fun things that keep getting stolen. The people who find these things interesting can just buy them from bookstores themselves. Our priority needs to be education."
I agree with the statement by GreenieGirl and giggle hysterically at the irony!
I work in an average sized public library system, and our books to do with HTML and other computer related topics seem to be lost quite often. I agree with what everyone's said about Wicca-whether people just like them, lose them, or are trying to censor them, they also seem tough to keep in circulation.
If we have a patron come in and get a library card and then check out VC Andrews books, we can pretty much guarantee we won't see those books again. I don't know why. And GED books. Recently we have started keeping the testing books behind the counter and requiring a $10 deposit that they will get back when they return the book. We have simply lost and replaced too many of them and it gets to be a hassle.
When I was in library school, I spent three months doing a practicum in which I essentially donated my services as a reference librarian to our local public library. I was innocently surprised to find that the books on witchcraft, the paranormal, and similar topics were always missing from the shelf. I'll never forget the explanation I got from one of the senior reference staff: "Honey, if the witches don't steal 'em, the Christians do." She said it was common for Christian patrons to steal such books in order to protect other people from evil. Apparently, as someone mentioned above, "Thou shalt not steal" had been dropped from the Commandments list by those particular Christians!
This is interesting, and if the history of censorship is any indicator, I wonder how many of those Christian thieves succumbed to the temptation of reading the "forbidden" book in their possession, and were troubled by it...unlike the general readers they were supposedly protecting, who are usually indifferent. Often these measures backfire against the very people enacting them.
61jessithepoo First Message
The most stolen books from the public library in which I work are definately the 133's. Anything having to do with Wicca, the paranormal, etc. just end up missing. We don't purchase Zane books, I guess they are too racy, and a Child called It rarely checks out.
Books about the Freemasons always seemed to disappear from every library I worked in and no! it was not me who did it. The joy of sex also disappeared before it got to the library shelves (it was on a waiting list for several readers) and as I was not only a member of staff, but the next person waiting for it, I was suspected of taking it!
As a Christian who is comfortable with Harry Potter books and LOTR I can officially say that only licensed Mages should be allowed to access the Wicca books. Seriously, if Lovecraft has taught us anything, it's that idiots + knowledge man should not **** with, + extradimensional horrors = a really macabre ending. But that doesn't mean I opposes wizards, sorcerers on the other hand are the real hooligans.
64chriscarroll First Message
I work in an academic library at a mid-sized university. It is impossible to keep books about the history of individual fraternities and sororities. Divine Nine seems to be a particular favorite.
i dunno #63...maybe it all just ='s a large tenticled creature with too many eyes placed on their hips...;P
sorry, i have been disappointed with lovecrafts "monsters" too many times...now his psychological terrors...AWESOME!
p.s. this comment was meant in good fun...hope i didn't offend :)
None taken. I suppose with today's Godzilla's and Cloverfield's, Lovecraft's monsters just don't scare as much as they used to. Even I don't find them that scary, ever since I saw that Cthulhu plush doll on Neil Gaiman's blog, even I thought I'd like to snuggle with one of those as a teddy.
Perhaps in an age where we are afraid of actual horrors like wars based on lies and greed for oil, and political assassinations, the monsters of old just don't make us scared anymore, since the purpose of the old monsters is all but forgotten in the face of the commercial "selling" of a monster's "cool factor", which exploits what was once archetypal dread in order to sell movie tickets.
Godzilla was once a warning against nuclear weapons, now people just see him as a cool monster that smashes stuff.
Dracula was once a satire of the old aristocracy that survived by oppressing the underclass, and "feeding" on their lifeblood in a metaphorical sense, now thanks to Anne Rice he's just a shadow of the past that can't keep up with the angsty, tortured souls of Vampires in Paranormal romance.
If we remember why people came up with these monsters in the first place, we realise their worth.
We're an urban library and we're trying SO HARD to give our patrons what they want. We buy just about every urban fiction that's publlished.
A couple of months ago at the branch that has the biggest and best collection of urban fiction, a woman came in and got a card and proceeded to check out 30 books. That should have been the giveaway.
The next day patrons reported that a woman had approached them on the street offering to sell the books for $2 a piece. Of course, we never saw them again.
One of the librarians at the main branch goes out every week to a nearby bookstore to reclaim the DVDs and graphic novels that people sell them that so obviously belong to the library.
Definately wicca and witchcraft titles, and any test prep book ever published. We also keep having to replace our copy of I Hate You Don't Leave Me - it circs a TON and then gets lost - either intentionally or not, you decide!
I work at an academic library and it's slightly better here in regards to books that don't come back. Basically, a hold goes on to patron accounts when they have outstanding fines (I'm not sure what the minimum is or if there is one). With a hold on their account, the student cannot: register for classes, obtain transcripts or graduate. Thus, not returning a book is really not all it's cracked up to be. Plus, we charge not only for the book, but the fines accrued for days late (which caps at $7.00) and a processing fee of $10.00. It's amazing how expensive it can be when you don't return a text book--you're better off just buying it at the bookstore.
Again with the paranormal/occult books, but every library I've been to that listed anything by Aleister Crowley never actually had it on the shelf. The only exception is our university library that keeps its one book in the Rare Books collection.
A friend of mine who works at a local Borders says that the urban fiction is their greatest loss area as well.
72chdragonladyz First Message
Hi guys - our very large urban public library replaces items that are highly circulated regardless of the fact that they will be stolen. Also, are we forgetting our ALA/Library School teachings that there should be equal access to materials? That means you can't charge people an extra fee to use just a certain item. Yes, all of the items mentioned above are stolen, but, if the person actually checked it out then they are billed for it and can't check out any more items if they owe $ over a certain amount. Many people abuse the public library b/c they think we are lax about prosecuting anyone for crimes. That image appears to be true - except that our system does use a collection agency and put fees on patron's credit reports at some point. That is my soap box for now. I just read this forum for the first time. Not trying to cause a flame war. Just commenting!
Hello from NZ! I work in a public library and the books which are stolen run along the same lines as previously mentioned. One type of book which we have trouble keeping on our shelves and gets stolen a lot is any books on tattoos. Especially our tribal tattoo books. It is quite amazing really. A lot of our books like this are kept in our locked Taonga (meaning: treasure) cabinet. These books can only be looked at in the library and our patrons have to leave their library card or drivers license etc at the desk with the books' card. When they return the book to the desk they get their card back. Patrons do get annoyed with this at times esp. if they want to take the book home, but once we explain it's either this way or we won't purchase the books at all because of ongoing costs they do pull their heads in a bit. LOL
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