Florida Librarians Accused of Creating Fake Borrowers to Save Stock

Ghost loans … a hand taking out a book from a library bookshelf. Photograph: Charles McClean/Alamy
Ghost loans … a hand taking out a book from a library bookshelf. Photograph: Charles McClean/Alamy

Two staff at East Lake library suspended after discovery of bogus loans, claimed to be a defence against automatic culling of unread books

Florida librarians have come up with a unique way to boost reader numbers and protect book stock. But there is a snag: it involves a little creative accounting.

Two staff at East Lake library have been suspended for allegedly creating bogus borrowers, in order to outwit automated book-culling software designed to ditch titles that are not being read. The accused have alleged that the practice is widespread among librarians fighting to protect book budgets from unnecessary purchases.

An investigation was sparked after an anonymous complaint was filed in November to Lake County municipal staff. The investigation revealed several fake identities with false addresses and drivers’ licence numbers, which had all been created by the librarians, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The two are reported to have been caught when it emerged that one of the dummy borrowers was Chuck Finley, a retired major-league basketball player. Listed in the East Lake library’s records as “a ballplayer”, Finley appeared to have read 2,361 books, ranging from Cannery Row by John Steinbeck to Why Do My Ears Pop? by Ann Fullick. Some books had been borrowed and returned within an hour.

Staff at the libraries claim the move was to save money: books not borrowed for a long time are automatically flagged for removal by the computer system. Among those accused of taking part is the East Lake library’s branch supervisor George Dore who, local press reported, has been put on administrative leave.

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SOURCE: The Guardian