2007 a Big Year for Japanese Library Thefts

About 284,000 books worth more than 400 million yen went missing from public libraries in Tokyo and other major cities across the country in fiscal 2007, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey has found.

Most of the books are believed to have been stolen, the survey said.
In many cases, thieves left the dust jackets of the books they took on shelves in place of the books, library officials said in the survey.

Story from Yomuiuri Shimbun.

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Something most libraries avoid talking about

Thanks for the heads-up on the Yomiuri Shimbun report. I was surprised that the libraries, from an Asian country no less, responded to the survey. Data on the theft and loss rate of library holdings is sensitive. Something that libraries don't discuss in public, I think. But I think we need to share and publicly discuss this. From the public library standpoint especially, we need to inform our stakeholders (e.g. readers) how a minority are abusing the system -- a system that works largely on public trust. Maybe our readers might end up being the most effective deterrent to the problem.

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