The City of Cape Town’s libraries revealed which book is ‘the most overdue’ and it looks like parents are to blame.
After the City of Cape Town offered fine-free return days for overdue books, DVDs and CDs during National Book Week, it was found that the most overdue book was the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway.
Thirty copies of the fiction series by Jeff Kinney made their return to libraries in the city. The book, which follows the life of Greg Heffley, a school weakling was released in 2017 and is not the latest in the series. In 2019, with the closure of the libraries for most of 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul topped the list of the most overdue book with 29 copies overdue at the city’s 104 libraries.
According to TimesLIVE, this year librarians welcomed back 75% of overdue items with 5 159 items returned, of which 2 149 were overdue by more than a year. It is reported that parents are mostly to blame for overdue books as the other most overdue books were 88 copies of fairy tales.
MMC for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien told the publication that the city’s libraries had a combined collection worth R859 million and the city had installed a book detection system worth R5 million for all libraries which would detect anyone trying to take a book without it being issued.
“We must ensure these materials are available for our patrons to enjoy, but often these are targets for thieves, and this is a loss we can ill afford.”
Badroodien explained that the high cost of books, particularly textbooks, means these are prone to theft.
“The sustainability of collections and being able to avail these resources to patrons who are not in a financial position to acquire them is imperative. Through this contract, library materials checked out by patrons will be better controlled, thereby minimising any potential loss, and at the same time sustaining and building on collections,” he said.
The detection system will entail sensing units that are programmed to detect materials fitted with special mechanisms which are deactivated at the checkout counters. Should the materials not be deactivated, an alarm will sound, alerting staff of the potential unauthorised removal of library materials.
“Each year we encourage patrons to return overdue items without the fear of being fined, and this year we are happy to get back so many outstanding items. I want to thank our patrons for ensuring the material can be shared again and bring joy to others.”
According to the city, since 2018, 49 630 items had gone missing or have been stolen from libraries. These include 45 819 books, 1 962 DVDs and 1 712 music CDs.
“Library collections chronicle and give a glimpse into our history, communicate the present and can help us shape the future. We cannot allow unscrupulous thieves to walk off with materials which provide knowledge, joy and creative outlets to our patrons,” said Badroodien.