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Richard Piatt reporting At a time when Salt Lake City's library is facing a financial shortfall, theft is especially troubling to many library patrons.
Library officials say the system can absorb some losses. But they're still taking new steps to fight the problem.
Considering circulation has doubled in the last year, library officials say losses due to theft are amazingly low. But it's still a problem they're being forced to deal with, especially when there's less money to buy new materials this year.
At the library, an average person checks out hundreds of dollars worth of books, C-D's, and D-V-D's at a time. And there are hundreds of checkouts every day.
Some of those materials leave and never come back. But the library has to find a balance between checking out materials and double-checking people.
Chip Ward/ Salt Lake Public Library: "YOU'RE TRYING TO CREATE A SYSTEM HERE THAT'S VERY OPEN. I MEAN, EITHER YOU'RE A LIBRARY OR YOU'RE A BANK. AND WE WANT PEOPLE TO COME IN HERE."
The library has installed a one-way gate at some entrances, like on the roof. And, of course, there are security checkpoints. That gentle reminder is tied into the system that lets people check out themselves.
The library is trying to protect itself from permanant losses at a time when the budget to buy new materials is being cut.
The library system is facing a $600,000 shortfall this year, forcing minor cutbacks in the short term. If it continues, however, any losses will become increasingly intolerable.
Right now, library officials say they can handle the losses, mostly due to people who permanantly ignore the due dates.
But it still brings an important question to mind for a lot of people: What kind of person steals from a Library?
Jennifer Fan/Library Patron: "I DON'T KNOW, IT'S THE LIBRARY. THEY COULD RENEW OR SOMETHING. JUST CAUSE THEY WANT TO KEEP IT, I DON'T THINK IT'S RIGHT."
Library officials don't have a dollar figure on how much was lost to theft last year. But they say, not only is it a loss they can handle, but that in general people in Utah are pretty good about treating library materials with respect.