by Kelsey Ryan, courtesy of the Kansas City Star
Every year, hundreds of books go missing and have to be replaced at the Kansas City Public Library and its branches. But the titles and types of books that go missing may surprise you.
“It’s a real diverse group,” said Deborah Stoppello, director of library collections, who oversees all physical and digital inventory for Kansas City Public Library (MO). But all of the books have one thing in common:
“They’re very popular and have longevity, year over year,” she said.
The top missing books are often the same as the most popularly checked out books.
“Anything that’s very popular with continued demand, we’re going to have that problem,” said Stoppello, whose team is constantly assessing whether missing books should be reordered by looking at how popular it is, how often it’s checked out and what the latest book trends are locally and nationally.
Here are the top missing books from the Kansas City Public Library branches, in no particular order:
▪ The “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling spans the young wizard’s life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his battles against Lord Voldemort in seven books. “It has been in popular culture many years and they have lasted and been continuously popular,” Stoppello said.
▪ The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is a 12-book series written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney. Its journal format follows middle schooler Greg Heffley’s ups and downs while growing up. “We decide to replace these often, because, boy, would patrons be upset,” Stoppello said.
▪ “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sister Souljah is an urban fiction novel about the struggles of Winter Santiaga in the Brooklyn projects of New York that was written in 1999. “We are constantly replacing it,” Stoppello said.
▪ “The Cartel” series by urban fiction duo Ashley Antoinette and JaQuavis Coleman is about the drama surrounding a Miami drug cartel family, spanning seven novels.
▪ The Bible may not be the highest in raw numbers of books that go missing, but it is consistently missing, Stoppello said. The library also keeps copies in its reference section, and has a digital copy available online.
▪ Books on witchcraft also are frequently missing. Stoppello said these books are popular, but some books like these are missing because they’re removed by people who don’t want others to read them.
▪ “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu is an ancient Chinese military strategy book originally written more than 2,500 years ago.
Test prep materials, including books to study for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test, used to be among the top missing. But not anymore. Stoppello thinks most people study for it online now.
As far as missing DVDs, the “Harry Potter” movies, Disney movies released from the vault (like “Aladdin” or “Little Mermaid”), and Tyler Perry movies are always at the top.
A new system at the library should better help track down any missing or stolen books.
Starting last fall and finishing up over the summer, library staff put new tags in every book in every branch that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), or a tiny antennae in every item. If books leave the library and they haven’t been properly checked out, an alarm will sound. It’s a more sophisticated system than the old magnetic strips the library used to put in books, Stoppello said.
“It’s a better way to make sure they don’t accidentally or purposefully walk out,” Stoppello said.