What’s the Most Stolen Book from Libraries?

a girl picking out the book from the shelf

It may not come as a huge surprise that the book that’s most stolen from public libraries is The Guinness Book of World Records.

The book’s popularity is irrefutable. It serves as a form of trivia, entertainment and to settle arguments over any kind of fact, whether it’s who’s the fastest runner, which is the biggest city or the most populous country. Whatever you can imagine, the Guinness Book has it all.

The Idea Is Born

The concept of creating such a book took place 60 years ago when Englishman Sir Hugh Beaver, Director of the Guinness Brewery that brews the famous Guinness Beer, attended a shooting party. An argument occurred over which European game bird was the fastest. There was no record or reference book that could settle the argument.

The First Edition

Sir Hugh, with the assistance of twins Norris and Ross McWhirter who ran a fact-finding industry in London, founded the company Guinness Superlatives. The twins’ research formed the first Guinness Book of Records which was released in the UK in 1955 and became a bestseller in its first edition. The following year, it was released in the United States and also became an immediate bestseller.

International Acknowledgment

Since its first publishing, the book has gone on to worldwide success. Today, it’s published in 31 languages including Mandarin, Icelandic and Arabic. It’s also expanded into the entertainment industry, with several television programs in different countries including the United States, Portugal, China, Turkey, Italy and Germany, among others. The shows have all been highly successful and often feature live performances by record holders. The first Guinness Book of Records show was launched in the UK where the book’s original researchers Norris and Ross McWhirter answered questions posed by children in the audience. The twins were known to have encyclopedic memories and were able to recall even the most obscure facts on the spot.

Today, there are several Guinness World Records museums in cities like Hollywood, Tokyo, Copenhagen and San Antonio. The franchise sells interactive DVDs and a video game for Nintendo Wii. There is even a Guinness World Record’s Day founded in 2005.

The book itself has been cited as holding world records. In 1999, it set the record of being the largest single print run of a case-bound book in color with 2,402,000 copies printed.

In 1995, the company earned a visit to the London office by Queen Elizabeth II on its 50th anniversary. In 2006, Michael Jackson visited the New York Office where he received a special award for his record breaking album Thriller.

Types of Records

The type of records in the book can be as varied as you can imagine. The man holding the record for most tattooed human is Lucky Diamond Rich, who set the record in 2006 with 100% of his body covered in tattoos including his tongue, the rims of his eyes, inside of his ears and his “delicate” areas. In 2009, Ashrita Furman of Queens, New York, won the record for being the “Person with the most records” with 100 confirmed records.

Over the years, some decisions were made to eliminate certain records from the book in order to promote public safety. Eating and drinking records, as well as sword-swallowing records were taken out in order to avoid potential legal suits for publishing facts that promote hazardous behavior.

Proving a record is no easy feat and Guinness’ teams are responsible for analyzing claims in order to ensure their veracity. Claims are made through written applications that take 4-6 weeks to process. A quicker response can be gained by paying a fee of $450.

With such a rich and entertaining history, it’s no wonder that the book also holds the record for being the most stolen book from public libraries.

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