I typically keep just one copy of a book in my colleciton. However, if I get a duplicate copy of a book that I haven't seen for awhile (because it has been overdue for quite some time), I have been assigning the new book with the same accession number as the older non-returned book, assuming the other one is never coming back. I have done this with several different books, but now I am wondering if I could run into a problem if some of those older books ever do show up. Then I will have duplicate books with the same accession number, and it could be confusing. Would it be best to assign the new book with a new number until I know for sure the old book is not coming back? I would be curious to see how some of you replace a non-returned book with a new copy.
Eva Nell, when do you decide that a book is not coming back and go ahead and delete it? Or do you just leave it listed as lost indefinitely?
We try to "write off" lost items about 18 months after the due date. (meaning, we delete it; but first we move its records into an Excel spreadsheet so we know what happened with that item)
If we are in contact with the borrower, we mark the item lost around 15 months.
Often, we can't contact the borrower - emails and letters are returned, phone numbers are disconnected. Then we mark the item lost about 12 months after the due date.
If we have an item that our Concourse system shows as IN and it is missing, we mark it lost after 3 months or so. If it turns up, we can just mark if Found again and rejoice like the prodigal son's Daddy.
Re: replacing lost items: We wait to replace these items for varying amounts of time, depending if they are in demand or not. Some we just don't replace, if they are older and not used much or if we have something better on the same topic.
In Concourse I am able to export a report (all items with the location "discarded") into another application like Excel.
When we decide to discard something, we change the location to Discarded and then add a comment about WHY we discarded it - low usage, poor condition, etc.
I keep a Master Discards List and just keep adding each batch to it. Then when the items are deleted, we still have a record of what we used to have and why we got rid of those.
I know exactly what you mean. It is uncanny.
I presume you know who borrowed the book and you make a note on that record of every phone call, and reminder that you have used for contact. Is this person still on the roll of the church? if not, does the church secretary have any change of address? So when you have exhausted every possible means of tracing the book and getting it back,are you reading your shelves frequently? This is many times where you find your book! It is shelved in the wrong place, sometimes a person just comes in the library when the book is very overdue, and quietly places it on the shelf just any place they find convenient! Sometimes, the library staff does not know the Dewey system, and they misread the call #, but there is where you "find" your lost book--I could not count the times that I found my book shelved in the wrong place. However, before declaring it lost, you should wait until weeding time, and when no book shows up in that search, then mark it "Lost." This is never less than a year's absence. The common saying in libraries is "the accession number is the book's birth certificate." Meaning, you can't duplicate it.
You are so right, Miss Maxine. Thanks for the reminder.
Maxine, you are right on target with this advice of shelf checking. We had a family in which the husband's books (but not the wife's) always seemed to be late/lost but they were sure he had returned them. I started finding them occasionally on the shelves without the checkout card, sometimes in the right spot, but not always. The next time he came in, I just observed him - he dropped off the book on the counter in the same pile as the books that had just been "slipped" (re-carded) and were about to be shelved, instead of in the basket marked "Return Books and DVDs Here" (!). This solved the mystery and we got that straightened out. Now he's careful to get it in the right return spot.
For libraries that still use cards in pockets, it's a good idea to do a check every year or so and be sure the right card is in the pocket. On occasion we have found cards missing, wrong cards, or even two cards. Accidents do happen.
This is a good task for a volunteer who might be able to only volunteer occasionally or perhaps isn't the best at other tasks. Simply make up a list using an Excel doc with the first column marked Range (about 2 inches wide) and the second column marked Date Checked. You might want a small third column for initials if you have different helpers, and leave the rest of the column space for Notes. Then you have a list of what's been checked and the person can keep track of where to start next. If you have an active children's section, I would check the kids' books at least once a year - as kids don't realize that switching cards is so problematic. Keep the list on a clipboard or in a notebook, or an index card system could work as well. This helper can also check the condition of the book and pull any needed repairs or cleaning.
When we moved we weeded heavily, but still had a number of older books, and older donations also came in which we added. We started going through the books and underlining the last checkout signature (some had no checkouts) in red ink. A year or so later, if the book still had no recent circulation, we generally weeded it out. The red line was a good, fast way to spot recent activity or not, and is another easy task for the occasional volunteer. You could combine all of the tasks (correct card/book condition/circulation check) if you wish.