ANYONE who has ever scoured the pages of Where’s Wally? for those distinctive red and white stripes will know just how long it can take.
So it is no surprise the puzzle book is among the top titles to disappear from south-east London libraries — but also no consolation for a council counting the cost of replacing them.
Bexley council has called on readers to bring their books back as it revealed more than 7,000 have been borrowed and not returned in the last five years.
Almost 2,450 books were stolen, lost or long overdue this year — nearly double last year’s total of 1,335.
Children’s book Diary Of A Wimpy Kid was the most popular to hold on to, with the £6.99 book missing from all 13 borough libraries.
Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone also often disappears, as if by magic. Meanwhile the DVSA driving handbook regularly steers clear of the returns box.
The council said: ‘It is really important that customers remember to return their books so someone else can enjoy them.
‘Replacing books that have been lost or not returned costs taxpayers money. The costs of replacing books can be up to £25 for hardback non-fiction titles.
‘One of the most common reasons for books not to be returned is because they may be overdue.
‘There are lots of ways to renew library books — in person, by telephone, online or using the Library App. Books can also be returned via our kiosks.’