Thousands of books, CDs and DVDs have disappeared from libraries in Suffolk
More than 900 items, which bosses say have either been misplaced, lost or stolen, were recorded at Ipswich County Library alone between 2014 and 2017.
Ironically just 161 disappeared at Hollesley Bay, Warren Hill and Highpoint prison libraries.
A total of 9,486 items went missing overall from Suffolk libraries.
Chief executive Alison Wheeler said the huge problem is being taken seriously – and warned library thieves would be punished.
Mrs Wheeler said: "Clearly some of these items will have been taken from libraries.
"If someone is suspected of stealing we will contact police and this will be treated as a criminal matter.
"It's worth reminding everyone that we do have CCTV in libraries so if someone is suspected of stealing or any other crime they may be caught on camera.
"We'd appeal to anyone aware of someone stealing library items to report this to police or contact Suffolk Libraries."
We try to do all we can to be vigilant
Chief executive Alison Wheeler
CCTV is being installed and security stepped up with new self-service equipment in a bid to slash the problem of missing books and other resources.
Worst-hit libraries include Felixstowe with 695 items listed as "missing", Beccles with 422, Sudbury with 559 and Woodbridge with 608.
Children's centres are the least likely to have books taken, with just one or two recorded at each.
The mass exodus of literature and entertainment has taken place over the last three years
"It's not possible to work out how many of these items are actually lost or have needed replacing.
"We always monitor the demand for books and try to make sure we have enough copies of new and existing titles," stressed Mrs Wheeler.
"We do also get a significant discount on new books so the actual cost is less than you~d think." She spoke as Suffolk Libraries face their budget being slashed by £200,000 in 2017/18.
"We are never complacent about missing items, particularly at a time when funding is so challenging.
"We try to do all we can to be vigilant.
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"Apart from our 44 public libraries the figures also include other places where you can borrow books including children's centres and prison libraries – a total of 77 locations," added Mrs Wheeler.
"We also have a dynamic book stock which means items don't belong to one particular library but can be requested and borrowed from any library across the county.
"This means our books are always on the move which enables us to meet the needs of our customers.
"We are in the process of introducing new self-service equipment which may help to ensure that some people aren't unwittingly taking books away without borrowing them."
More than 900 items were misplaced, lost or stolen at Ipswich County Library between 2014 and 2017
Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for finance and heritage, Richard Smith, warned that thieves were depriving others of the joy of reading books.
Cllr Smith said: "The books are a valuable asset and we are confident Suffolk Libraries exercise good stewardship of them.
"Stolen items deprive other people the use of them.
"While the problem is very minor, both Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Libraries take it very seriously."