Every librarian knows about these books. There are niches in the collection that are impossible to supply. To purchase more copies is futile. Some people have no notion of how a lending library works, no ethical grounding to understand the concept of sharing access with others. They come to us with a specific need, apply for a library card to fill that need, and throw away their privileges when the need has been met, never to darken our door again. It's sad.
A man came to me today, requesting a list of titles, all of which fitted the "Disappearing Book" profile. His arms were covered with prison or gang tattoos. He wanted Sun Tzu's Art of War, Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction, Milton William Cooper's Behold a Pale Horse, all titles with many copies missing, maybe one copy still active but checked out, possibly overdue. He didn't want to reserve them, which raised a flag. (Does he even have a card? Does he mean to make off them with them straightaway if they are on the shelf?) He settled for some titles we did have on the shelf about secret societies.
He was clearly looking to be a "player". Oh, all is vanity, sir.
Behold a Pale Horse has been the subject of discussion among us recently, after we borrowed a copy through interlibrary loan and it too went missing, which was very costly. Should we buy a copy to keep at the desk for in-library use only, to forestall further ILL requests?
Books that disappear:
GED and ASVAB test prep.
Magic and witchcraft
Secret Societies & Conspiracies
Urban fiction, (African-American "Penny Dreadfuls")
Vampire & Horror fiction