Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library
Nearly 17,000 DVDs stolen from Gwinnett County libraries
The Associated Press - LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga.
Gwinnett County's public library system has decided to stop offering
DVDs, saying the number of discs stolen could fill two video stores.
With nearly 17,000 DVDs stolen, the library system ended the program
last month and began selling the remaining DVDs.
"It's disgusting," board Chairman Dan English said.
Gwinnett County's collection included only children's titles and
educational films from producers like National Geographic. The only
feature-length movies were "Cinderella" and similar titles.
Librarians first noticed DVDs going missing a couple of years ago.
Parents arrived home from the library with DVD cases that turned out to
be empty. Or DVDs would be missing from shelves, even though the
library's computer system showed they had not been checked out.
But library workers got a look at the full scope of the problem in early
2004. A routine inventory showed the DVDs were missing at a higher rate
than books, CDs, magazines and other materials. Administrators then had
the system's 12 branches look inside the cases to see if they still
contained discs. Many were empty.
In all, thieves have made off with 44 percent of the library system's
roughly 39,000 DVDs. Theft rates for other types of materials, such as
books, are less than 2 percent, marketing director Cindy Murphy said.
Librarians are not sure how the DVDs disappeared, but they assume most
were slipped out of their cases inside the libraries.
"I would really hate to think that there was some parent ripping them
off, and having some little kid by the hand and saying this is OK,"
The lost discs have cost the taxpayer-funded library system about
$250,000, administrators estimated.
Now, parents who had borrowed library DVDs as an inexpensive way to
entertain and educate their children will now have to go back to renting
them from video stores.
"It's a shame that the small percentage of the population takes the
enjoyment, the freedom and the availability of these items from everyone
else," said Beth McCloy, a Buford resident who used the DVDs as part of
a home school curriculum for her three children.
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