Monday, July 31, 2006


The Parable of the Missing Book

Melchor F. Cichon

Monday is almost always a busy day in the library.
It is the time when students would return the reserve books they borrowed the week before, and reserve books anew for the next day.
One mid-Monday morning, one of the staff of a library noted that a reserve book has not been returned by Jane, not her real name. It turned out that that particular book was the only copy available in the library. And some students would like to borrow it because they would have a test the following day.
Later in the day, the staff saw Jane. She asked her of the book. Jane asked the staff when the book was borrowed.
"Last Saturday."
"But Ma’am", said Jane, "I was in Antique last Saturday. So I could not possibly borrow it. You can see on the list of students who came to the library that Saturday."
The staff checked the attendance. Jane’s name was not there. But the name of a certain Josephine appeared in the list. Josephine belongs to the same school where Jane studied and they were not in good terms.
"Can I see the book card, Ma'am?"
"Look Ma’am,’ this is not my ID Number, and beside that is not the way I write my name. Somebody else must have borrowed it. But definitely not me!"
"Right," said the staff, "the ID number here lacks one digit—there are only six instead of 7."
The staff requested Jane to help find the culprit.
"O.K. Ma’am."
The staff informed her supervisor of the missing book.
The supervisor inquired how it happened.
Early Saturday morning, a female student came to the staff to reserve a book. The student was asked to fill-up a reservation slip. Since it was Saturday the policy of the library was to issue the reserve book immediately after it has been reserved.
At that time, the book was still being used by a student from the other college. And since the book had been reserved by someone else, it has to be given to the person who reserved it.
Because of confidence, the staff issued the book to Jane without even asking for her ID card.
But the problem is the staff could not remember the name of the student who signed out the book. Nor her face.
The following day, the news of the missing book was all over the college where the book was being used.
Fortunately, it came to the attention of the student who was using it before it was issued to a female student. The problem was he did not know her name, although he could recognize her once he saw her again.
Another student came and informed the supervisor of her knowledge of the missing book. She was around when the book was issued to the student and she mentioned her name, Josephine.
When the supervisor learned about this, he called for Josephine to come to his office.
Josephine came the following day.
When the supervisor asked her about the missing book, she denied. She was somewhere else that day.
But the supervisor showed her signature in the list of library users that particular Saturday. The supervisor further told her that somebody saw her signed the book card and when the library staff gave the book to her.
Josephine just kept quite.
Then she said, I could not have taken it out illegally.
The supervisor told her to bring her parents on a particular day and time to the University Librarian for a meeting.
The supervisor also informed Jane to bring her parents to the University Librarian for the same purpose.
After this, the supervisor briefed the university librarian on the missing book and that the parents of both Jane and Josephine would come for a meeting with her on that particular time and day. The witnesses were also informed to attend the said meeting to shed light on the matter.
Prior to the meeting, the mother of Josephine texted Jane. She was asking for an apology of what had happened.
The day of the meeting came.
All the important characters were present: Jane and Josephine, their respective parents, the two witnesses, the library staff who issued the book, the university librarian and the supervisor.
It turned out that the parents of Jane and Josephine are friends, and that Jane and Josephine were friends when they were still in high school.
After presenting the evidences: the book card, the overnight reservation slip, attendance sheet of those students who used the library, the supervisor presented the witnesses to. After they testified, the mother of Josephine informed the group that indeed it was her daughter who checked out the book, except that the book got lost. But they are willing to pay the whole price and they requested that the matter should no longer be brought somewhere else.
After the testimony of Josephine’s mother, she was told to ask for forgiveness.
And Jane and Josephine hugged each other.
When Jane was asked why she took out the book illegally, she said that she has a grudge on Jane because one time Jane marked her absent in a certain activity. Josephine said that Jane was not really around in that activity.
What lessons can be learned from this incident?
Never trust all your users. Some maybe honest, but others are not.
Checking of ID card is a must before any library is issued to the borrower.
Be friendly to students because someday they might help you solve your problem.
Be vigilant.

Must have been an important book? Most libraries seem to just write them off. Amazing how small people can be. i hope they learned something from the experience. Frances.
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