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Ripped pages rile readers

Librarians have posted words of warning for anyone tempted to tear recipes out of the Ashland Public Library's cooking magazines. "Recipes made from ripped out pages will bubble, boil and burn. Do the right thing and use the photocopier. Thanks," read little paper signs by magazines such as Food & Wine and Bon Appétit.

The message may have been delivered with a sprinkle of wit, but the problem of theft at the library is real.

Knitting patterns also are being torn out of the library's knitting magazines as the hobby surges in popularity among all age groups. "Knitting patterns have the highest rip-off rate right now," said Amy Blossom, branch manager of the Ashland library.

Knitting books also are disappearing.

"Someone took '50 Baby Booties to Knit.' Who could do that?" Blossom asked.

To counter the problem of torn out knitting patterns and recipes, some magazines such as Interweave Knits and Fine Cooking now are being kept like contraband behind the library circulation desk. Patrons have to ask for those magazines to check them out.

The New York Times Magazine also is kept behind the desk. The magazine's crossword puzzles have proven irresistible to sticky-fingered visitors.

Lately, Buddhism books are being stolen, but in the past, different translations of the Bible were being swiped by people disregarding the Eighth Commandment.

"We always worry when people steal the Buddhism books because of their karma," Blossom said.

The material targeted by library thieves changes over time.

A few years ago, someone stole three years' worth of back issues of a bicycling magazine, Blossom said.

The various branches in the Jackson County library system also have theft issues with different kinds of books and magazines, she said.

Medford's library, for example, has a problem with people taking materials that deal with scrap-booking, Blossom said.

At The Websters knitting and crocheting supply shop in downtown Ashland, some customers want to buy individual patterns and pattern books, photocopy the patterns, and then return the materials to the store and get their money back, said Wendi Moseman, manager of the shop's website.

Like many knitting supply shops, The Websters has a no-return policy on patterns and pattern books for that reason, she said.

"Historically, that's been an issue in the industry," Moseman said.

The cost of a pattern ranges from about $4 to $9 at The Websters, with many falling in the $5 range, according to the store's website.

Moseman said many knitters have an attitude that patterns should be free.

"There are so many free patterns in the world, people think they shouldn't have to pay for it anymore," Moseman said. "So many companies give away patterns with yarn purchases. There are also free patterns online."

Interweave Knits, the magazine targeted by thieves at the Ashland library, has an annual subscription cost for four issues of $25. But it offers a multitude of free patterns online for people who register to become Knitting Daily club members. Registration is free.

The magazine has free online patterns to make a snowflake ornament, blankets, vests, sweaters, scarves, finger puppets and other creations. Visit www.interweaveknits.com for information.

Ashland knitter Jo Jenner said she can't understand why people steal patterns out of Interweave Knits and other magazines at the library when they could photocopy a pattern for 10 cents per page using the library's photocopier.

She was recently disappointed to find patterns missing for socks and a cape that she wanted to make.

"Our society is so much about me, me, me," Jenner said. "And this theft is not just because of the recession. It costs 10 cents to make a copy at the library. People are so focused on themselves. It just doesn't make sense."

Blossom said the Ashland library branch spends roughly $8,000 each year on magazine subscriptions for the public to enjoy.

She said people who tear knitting patterns, recipes and other materials out of the library's magazines are ruining those magazines for everyone. They are also stealing Jackson County property, she noted.

"It hurts everybody," Blossom said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.