Missing in Action: A Mission to Investigate and Neutralize Book Loss
Barber, Marlena; Russell, Roger
Objective: During the summer of 2014, Laupus Library at East Carolina University began investigating an increase in the number of items that were being reported as being “not on shelf” by staff and patrons. Due to a previous incident of organized theft, we decided to act quickly and determine the cause of these reports. Our project objectives were to assess the extent of loss, to look for correlations between areas of high loss and specific topics or disciplines, to implement measures to reduce the amount of loss, to uncover library book collection control practices at other libraries, and to conduct a follow-up assessment to measure the success of our efforts. Methods: An inventory was conducted of the entire library circulating collection in 2014 with an analysis of the percentage of books lost and the percentage of loss of the book collection value. A survey of the AAHSL libraries will be conducted on their collection control practices. After creating a case with campus police and increasing theft-prevention measures, a follow up inventory is presently being conducted to assess the success of the steps we took to mitigate loss. We also continue to monitor reports from patrons and staff who were unsuccessful in locating a book that should be located on the shelf per the library catalog. Results/Conclusion: By analyzing the loss-rate percentages of the first inventory and through analyzing both the statistical data and anecdotal patron and staff reports on the now current collection, we see a reduction already in book loss. Reviewing the data from other AAHSL libraries illustrated common practices among other health sciences libraries to help determine successful loss prevention measures.