Need advice - damaged magazines Reference Desk 23 Jan 2004 16:04 UTC

I'm hoping someone can offer some advice on the issue of patrons damaging library magazines. Our library subscribes mostly to popular magazines, such as Newsweek, Time, People, etc., magazines that have pictures that apparently are very tempting to tear or cut out. I've dealt with minor cutting in magazines for a while, and either talk to the patron, when possible, or simply charge them for the replacement of the magazine. Today, however, I've just about reached the end of my rope. I had an issue of People magazine returned with 5 or 6 pages torn, and over 100 pages missing - the worst I've ever seen. (The worst part is that I suspect it was done in the library, since it was returned and brought to my attention by one of our best volunteers.)  I'm hoping anyone who's dealt with this can offer advice on how they've handled this, what's worked, and what hasn't worked. Here's what I've done so far: spoken with the patron personally and told them that this is NOT ok, charged their accounts when I can't get ahold of them (then dealt with them yelling at me in the middle of the library when they find out), begun checking every magazine individually when they come back in (and checking high risk ones like People page by page) - which takes up a lot of time, placed labels on high risk magazines telling patrons that they will be charged if pages are torn out when they return them, and hung signs in the magazine area stating the law about damaging library property. Any other ideas? TIA for any advice!


Michelle A. Hawk
Head of Reference
Lebanon Community Library
125 North 7th Street
Lebanon, PA 17046
(717) 273-7624
Fax: (717) 273-2719