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Revealed: The thousands of items missing, lost or stolen from Norfolk's libraries

PUBLISHED: 15:09 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:47 06 March 2019

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was among the most frequent books to go missing from Norfolk's libraries in 2018. Picture: James Bass

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was among the most frequent books to go missing from Norfolk's libraries in 2018. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

More than 10,000 items worth more than £90,000 have gone missing, been lost or stolen from Norfolk's libraries in the past year.

Jan Holden, head of libraries, speaks at the opening of the newly refurbished children's library at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJan Holden, head of libraries, speaks at the opening of the newly refurbished children's library at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

As World Book Day is celebrated, a freedom of information request has revealed the thousands of items marked as missing by the county’s library service since the beginning of 2018.

These include dozens of Harry Potter novels, popular children’s favourites and a copy of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, which has gone missing from Aylsham Library.

It comes after it was revealed Paint Fun by Ray Gibson is the county’s most overdue book - having been borrowed in July 1999 and not yet returned.

A total of 10,325 items were included on a list of missing items, with a combined value of £90,963 - though many did not have a cost attached.

Appearing most frequently on this were a series of leaflets produced by Macmillan Cancer Support titled A Practical Guide to Understanding Cancer. These leaflets were marked as missing by librarians 18 times in this period.

However, it has been claimed that being marked missing does not necessary mean the item has been stolen or lost - simply that it could not be located by staff.

Jan Holden, head of libraries and information at Norfolk County Council, said: “This date represents a snapshot of a particular day in time.

“If an item appears on the list it often simply means that a member of staff was unable to immediately locate it when having a quick look.

“Often a book may have been put in the wrong place on a shelf and will turn up at a later date.”

She added: “Occasionally items are stolen but thankfully these instances are very rare and we’d like to remind people that CCTV is used in libraries and anyone who steals items from any library will be reported to police and may be prosecuted.”

The library boss added that when items were lost by customers, they would be charged the cost of the item plus any overdue charges. However, the county’s libraries currently have no debt recovery service.

The ten most frequently unaccounted for items are as follows:


1. Practical Guide to Understanding Cancer by Macmillan Cancer Support (18 copies)


2. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell (eight copies)


=. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson (eight copies)


=. Overcoming Anger and Irritability by William Davies (eight copies)


5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (seven copies)


6. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (seven copies)


=. Chickenfeed by Minette Walters (seven copies)


=. 1984 by George Orwell (seven copies)


9. Infant massage: a handbook for loving parents by Vimala McClure (six copies)


=. One Shot by Lee Child (six copies)

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