Stolen and vandalized books hurt the library and users
A patron recently came to Reference Librarian Bob Menanteaux with
a question concerning service of process in Canada. Two books immediately
came to mind, but when Bob showed them to the patron, he found that
the entire contents of one had been taken, and the relevant chapter
in the other ripped out. There were no other resources available
in our library that adequately addressed the man's question.
Theft and vandalism cost the library thousands of dollars a year
in replacement costs and staff time incurred in ordering, processing,
and following up. The rising cost of legal materials makes it increasingly
prohibitive to spend money twice on the same item.
Some materials require multiple attempts to purchase, or are difficult
to replace. Unlike the average bestseller, the market for specialized
legal materials is relatively small. Many items are produced in
low print runs, which makes them more expensive from the get-go
and means that they frequently go out-of-print in a matter of months,
when the publisher assumes that anyone who would have wanted a copy
will have acquired one. Also, the contents of more specialized legal
materials are not likely to be found anywhere else. The majority
of our print collection is not freely available online due to the
economics of publishing. We frequently have to search the out-of-print
book market for replacements, which is expensive, time-consuming,
and often fruitless.
The upshot is that when something is stolen or vandalized, the
information contained in that source is lost to our users. Even
if we find a replacement, whoever discovered the problem will most
likely be past the point when he or she needs the information, and
others who needed it in the meantime will have had to do without.
Since part of the value of a collection is measured by its comprehensiveness,
no one wants to see a hole on the shelf. Anything taken lessens
the value of the collection to everyone.
Our mission as a library is to provide access to resources for
all of our patrons. We need your help in making sure we can do that.
If you find misplaced or damaged materials, please notify us. Your
help enables us to provide greater access to materials for all library
At least they left the index: some materials have to be replaced
entirely, even when only a small section is removed. Pages are not
sold piecemeal, even in some loose-leaf sets. 158 pages, the bulk
of this handbook, were stolen and cannot be replaced. It is no longer
Gee, thanks: this article was ripped out, then later returned. Some
materials turn up after assignments and exams. Usually at that point,
however, we have already processed the replacement material and
the damage is done.
Points for neatness: 42 pages of this law review were removed with
Maybe he or she was in a hurry: the missing pages from this old
volume of the Harvard Law Review (1891) were torn out so violently
that the binding has been ruined, causing the whole volume to fall