Did you ever see the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry forgot to return Henry Miller’s racy Tropic of Cancer (or Capricorn) and has to face the library cop, Mr. Bookman? Well, Bookman would have been appreciative of this 2010 ALA conference program by RBMS To Catch a Thief: Cataloging and the Security of Special Collections.
The topics up for discussion included whether less processing or streamlined processing results in greater risk for collection theft. Finding just the right amount of processing to make materials accessible, providing the best data and using staff resources wisely has been up for debate since 2005 when Greene and Meissner published More Product Less Process.
Another interesting idea is the tiered processing system employed by the Library of Congress. More valuable items require more detail in processing and are ranked in a higher echelon. Less valuable or rare equates with less processing.
Finally, in terms of preventing rare book and special collections related crimes, it seems that a combination of transparency, record keeping via cataloging entries and communication about missing items can help in retrieval.
Library crime is no laughing matter…