Don't Do It
Feb 25, 2015
Love my job, I do. What I don't like all that much is seeing materials walk out the library. Well, I mean, it doesn't just sprout legs, get up, and walk out the front door of it's own volition - it/they need a little help. Let me explain.
The other day as I was doing my Librarian mambo, a lawyer-type person came up to me for assistance. Seems he had a client who was being sued for fraud. Knowing that Fraud needs to be plead with "particularity," lawyer-type person was looking for pleading templates related to Fraud. Well, of course, my first thought was to go California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Lexis). Looking in Volume 23, I quickly noted that Fraud/Deceit was in Chapter 69; problem was, chapter 69 was missing. Upon further examination I discovered Chapter 70 (Fraudulent Conveyances) was missing, as well. How ironic! Anyway, not finding what I was looking for there, I resorted to my reliable back-up in California Civil Practice: Torts (West; Volume 1, Chapter 22).
Now, I can't begin to tell you the angst I feel when I find whole sections (or even one page) missing from our collection. I remember how, when I was working for another public law library, the library had a satellite branch inside the courthouse and the replacement (i.e. replacing resources that have been absconded) budget was larger than the annual satellite budget. Trying to keep up with stolen library resources is such a problem that the California Legislature got in on the game and passed California Penal Code Section 490.5 which states, in pertinent part:
(a) Upon...conviction for petty theft involving...a book or other library materials taken from a library facility, a person shall be punished by a mandatory fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each such violation; and may be also by punished by imprisonment in the county jail, not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.
In this case, "each" can refer to each book, resource, or page stolen from a library. In the case at hand, the number of pages in question exceeded 500 pages; so, by my count, that's a maximum penalty of $500,000, plus costs, plus 6 months in county jail. Really? You're going to abscond with materials from a library and have the Sword of Damocles hang over your head?!? Sounds like a lifetime of grief, to me. Better to just make your copies (we charge 15 cents per page) and go about your merry and not deal with all the stress of having to hide your nefarious deeds from your local county law librarian. Yeah, that's what I'd do.
Bret is a Legal Research & Instructional Services Librarian at our Main Library.