Tough economic times are hurting Ohio’s libraries, but budget cuts aren’t the only issue they’re facing.
The state’s public libraries lose about 2% of their materials to thieves. Blair Tom of the Muskingum County Library System said theft is more of a problem in larger cities like Columbus, but he has seen an increase in the number of items being stolen.
"Our experience is that it’s more the media type of materials that disappear, certainly some books and printed materials, but the electronic resources is the higher area," said Tom.
Tom said some people steal the items to re-sell them and turn a profit. The libraries take precautions to prevent theft including security gates and cameras monitored by staff.
"It makes the environment safer," said Tom. "We don’t want it to be intimidating or threatening, but we also want it to be safe. We are charged with being good stewards, and it’s not our collection. It’s the public’s collection, so we do think that does impact behaviors and choices that people make."
Tom said the open floor plan at the newly renovated South Zanesville Library will help keep materials from walking out the door.