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News June 14, 2006

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School of Communication

Missing, unreturned books cost library a bundle

By Wesam Elrabadi

While cleaning up her attic recently, Cleveland State alumna Ruthie Alkawaja stumbled upon a book she borrowed from the university’s library in 1988.
“I ended up making my brother take it back,” Alkawaja said.
She added “I would’ve been too embarrassed” to go back to the library to return the book.
Like Alkawaja, many borrowers have either forgotten to return the materials borrowed from the library or simply lost them.
In fiscal year 2001, about 1,661 titles were reported missing from the library, which is 41 percent increase over the 1,182 missing titles in 2000, according to Head Communications Librarian Carol Zsulya.
The university’s fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.
Of the 1,661 missing books, 1,388 were among the items loaned out and borrowed via OhioLINK.
CSU staff members and library patrons were responsible for the loss of 273 items.
In fiscal year 2001, the library spent $13,100 for replacing lost materials.
This figure represented about 2 percent of the 2001 book budget, and the money could have been used to order new books rather than replace the old ones.
Each time a faculty, staff member, student or a patron loses a book, a form is filled out confirming the book’s disappearance.
For the next three months, a library staff member would search for the item to make sure it had not been returned to the wrong department.
If unsuccessful in locating a book, the issue is referred to the librarian in charge of the book’s subject matter.
The librarian would decide whether to buy a new copy or withdraw the title from the library’s collection.
“Whenever a business, economics or communication book is lost, about 99 percent of the time I just withdraw the title since there’s usually an updated edition or a better, more current resource,” Zsulya said.
The library’s patrons, including the university’s staff and students, have become more careful over the years.
In fiscal year 2003, only 795 titles were reported missing or lost, which is a 35 percent decrease from the 1,228 items missing in 2002.
During the routine three month follow-up, 310 items were found, 485 titles were reordered, while 271 were completely withdrawn.
Overall $7,858 was spent on replacements in 2003, according to Zsulya.

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