I was reading in today's Guardian that £150 million worth of books are pinched from UK libraries every year. Sometimes I'm glad I have no time to blog in work because I was demanding the return of the death penalty when I read about this over lunch. By late
afternoon I had mellowed slightly and was down to the return of flogging.
I have pondered the matter further and would now settle for a short custodial sentence or tagging. That is except for anyone who steals my books -they should die. No-one has stolen any of my books for a while mainly because I have stopped lending them to people. I don't know why but with a few exceptions people seem to think 'borrow' and keep mean the same thing when it comes to books. The most, otherwise respectable people see nothing wrong in 'borrowing' a book then keeping it. It's hardly surprising this behaviour has infected our public libraries which now I think on it also contain MY books given that I am a tax payer.
I remember lending a book to a spinster of impeccable character, or so I thought, some years ago. After three months of 'forgetting' to bring it into work she confessed she'd lent it to her sister who'd thought it was 'crap' and left it by a pool in Turkey. I have never been so furious in my life! Her sister only had one eye so naturally she'd only enjoy the book half as much as I did but that in no way justifies leaving it by a pool in Turkey. No-one asked me if my book could leave the country. She's bloody lucky I didn't poke her other eye out. The spinster and the cyclops offered to buy me another one but I didn't believe them. I was right, I'm still waiting. Even though I immediately went out and bought another one I still bear a grudge.
What sort of person deliberately leaves someone else's book in Turkey by a pool?
I have not lent many books since then. Even as we speak one of my collection is astray though I have several of that persons books in my possession as 'security'. These are the very lessons bitter experience teaches us.
The question that faces us now is how to stamp this out in the public libraries. We could arm librarians as a deterrent or name and shame everyone who pinches a Stephen King. Maybe it could be dealt with more informally and a couple of the bigger librarians could rough up a few thieves. A good beating from a handy librarian ought to nip a few budding criminal careers in the bud.